California’s Caldor Fire has grown 20 times bigger: ‘It’s devastation’
California’s Caldor Fire was more than 20 times bigger on Thursday than it was on Tuesday and has forced over 10,000 people to flee their homes, according to fire officials.
On Wednesday, dozens of fire engines and crews were called in from other fires to fight the Caldor fire, which exploded through heavy timber in steep terrain since erupting over the weekend southwest of Lake Tahoe in El Dorado County.
The fire, the cause of which is unknown, was 0% contained as of Thursday, Cal Fire said. It’s now at over 65,000 acres in size.
Increased humidity on Wednesday night into Thursday morning helped slow the fire’s progress, but fire officials expect fire behavior to increase Thursday afternoon when the inversion layer lifts, sparking new spot fires to the north and northeast of the fire area. A red flag warning is scheduled to continue through 11 a.m. Thursday.
More than 6,900 structures are threatened by the fire.
The number of those evacuated in El Dorado County jumped to 16,380 Wednesday, up from about 6,850 the day prior, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services told CNN.
The fire has blackened nearly 220 square miles and on Tuesday ravaged Grizzly Flats, California, a small community of about 1,200 people.
Dozens of homes burned there. Grizzly Flats resident Chris Sheean said the dream home he bought six weeks ago went up in smoke. “It’s devastation. You know, there’s really no way to explain the feeling, the loss,” Sheean said. “Everything that we owned, everything that we’ve built is gone.”
Cal Fire reported Wednesday that the blaze had “experienced unprecedented fire behavior and growth due to extremely dry fuels pushed by southwest winds.”
Fire agencies battling the blaze say that the extent of the damage is not yet entirely known as unsafe conditions continue to prevent structure assessment teams from entering the area.
At least 16,000 other homes remain threatened by California wildfires, which are among some 104 burning throughout mostly Western states, officials from the National Interagency Fire Center said Thursday.
California’s wildfires are on pace to exceed the amount of land burned last year – the most in modern history.
The massive Dixie Fire – the nation’s largest at more than 1,000 square miles, which is about two-thirds the size of Rhode Island – also continued to burn Thursday.
The fire has destroyed 1,217 structures, including 649 homes, according to Cal Fire.
The Dixie Fire is the first to have burned from east to west across the spine of California, where the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountains meet.
No deaths have been reported despite the speed and damage of the blazes in California.
Contributing: The Associated Press; The Record, Stockton, Calif.; The Reno Gazette-Journal