By Derrick Bryson Taylor
New York Times
Crews battling the Caldor fire southwest of Lake Tahoe in California endured another stressful weekend as the fire grew by more than 30,000 acres in just two days.
The fire, which started Aug. 14 and grew quickly, has burned 104,000 acres and was 5% contained as of Sunday evening, according to a New York Times wildfire tracker.
Nearly 350 homes have been destroyed and more than 17,000 structures are threatened by the fire, fire officials said. At least 207 fire engines and 20 helicopters have been assisting in fighting the blaze, requiring more than 1,600 personnel.
Thousands of people in El Dorado County had been urged to leave their homes or to prepare to do so, according to the governor’s office. Officials said that evacuation orders could remain in place for up to two weeks. On Saturday, high winds caused the fire to jump U.S. 50, one of the main routes between Sacramento and the Lake Tahoe area. A portion of that highway remains closed.
Favorable weather may assist firefighters at the start of the week. Cooler temperatures are predicted across fire-ravaged areas for Monday and Tuesday, but the same areas are forecast to reach above normal by Thursday and into Friday, the National Weather Service said. Portions of Northern California will continue to see smoke and haze from the wildfires.
While wildfires occur throughout the West every year, scientists see the influence of climate change in the extreme heat waves that have contributed to the intensity of fires this summer. Prolonged periods of abnormally high temperatures are a signal of a shifting climate, they say.
Across California, more than 13,000 firefighters were battling 13 active large wildfires that have burned more than 1.54 million acres, according to Cal Fire, the state’s firefighting agency.
The Dixie fire, the second-largest on record in California, remains a threat to communities. It has burned more than 720,000 acres since it started more than a month ago. It was only 38% contained as of Sunday night.
The fire has destroyed more than 1,200 structures, including much of the historic town of Greenville. Susanville, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, has become a refuge for evacuees. On Sunday, some evacuation orders and warnings were reduced for some areas, particularly in Lassen County.
The fire potential in most of California’s mountains and foothills is forecast to be higher than normal through September, and through October in areas prone to offshore winds, the National Interagency Fire Center said this month.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.