The day was crucial for firefighters trying to stop a huge California wildfire from reaching Lake Tahoe. They were hoping to benefit from calmer winds and avoid the return of hot gusts.
The Caldor Fire lit up mountains southwest of Tahoe Basin, inflicting a lot of toxic smoke on the area and sending tourists packing just before the Labor Day weekend.
Capt. Stephen Horner is a Cal Fire spokesperson for the Caldor Fire. Up to 149,000 acres have been burned, which is 233 miles (603 kilometers)).
Horner stated, “It’s going be a very pivotal moment for us.”
Horner stated that the fire’s eastern border was approximately 7 to 8 miles (11 to 13 kilometers) from South Lake Tahoe. It did not advance much overnight due to “backfiring,” which involves firefighters igniting fuel to get ahead of the flames.
Horner stated, “They did backfiring operation that was nothing short of extraordinary last night in that region.”
Cal Fire incident spokesperson Henry Herrera stated that wind gusts of up to 35 mph were predicted for Saturday morning, but that they have tapered off and slower, weaker winds are expected throughout the weekend.
Herrera stated that “we anticipate being able be able to make greater progress over the weekend due to favorable wind conditions.” However, the slower winds are only expected to last for two days.
Cal Fire issued a Fire Weather Watch for Monday and Tuesday, indicating that there will be “elevated fire dangers” at higher elevations in the Northern Sierra.
Since its start on Aug. 14, Caldor has destroyed over 600 structures in the Sierra Nevada. Fire managers have pushed back the date for complete containment from Sept. 8 to early next week because it has been so difficult to control. Even that estimate was uncertain.
It is one of almost 90 large blazes across the U.S. Many of them are burning trees and brush that has been drained by the drought in the West. According to scientists, climate change has made the region more hot and dryer over the past 30 years. It will continue to make wildfires more destructive and the weather more extreme.
According to the U.S. Army North, 200 U.S. Army soldiers will be sent from Washington and other equipment, including eight U.S. Air Force C-130 planes. This is in aid of firefighters in Northern California. After a week of training, the soldiers will arrive in California in September. C-130s can now be converted into airtankers capable of carrying thousands of gallons water to the flames.
More than 15,200 firefighters are fighting 14 large fires in California. Around 2,000 structures were destroyed by fires, forcing thousands of people to flee the West. Large swathes of the West were also blanketed in toxic smoke.
Joe Irvin, South Lake Tahoe City Manager, issued an emergency proclamation on Thursday to ensure that the city that is home to Heavenly Ski Resort is better prepared in case of evacuation orders. He also requested reimbursement for any related expenses.
The 2007 Angora Fire destroyed almost 250 homes in Meyers, and was the last major fire that the city declared a Wildfire Emergency.