Caldor Fire Is ‘Knocking on the Door’ to the Lake Tahoe Basin

In response to several fires around California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to assist in wildfire response and recovery efforts.,


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The Caldor fire is ‘knocking on the door’ to the Lake Tahoe basin, a fire official said.

Lake Tahoe was obscured by smoke from the Caldor fire on Monday.Credit…Fred Greaves/Reuters

Aug. 24, 2021, 6:42 a.m. ET

The Caldor fire near Sacramento has become the No. 1 priority for scores of firefighters who have been tackling blazes around California after it quickly burned more than 100,000 acres in 10 days, a fire official said.

“It is that important,” Chief Thom Porter, the director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said at a news conference on Monday. “It is knocking on the door to the Lake Tahoe basin.”

Mr. Porter said that fire officials were doing what they could to keep the fire out of the basin, a vast area in the Sierra Nevada mountains. “We do need to also be aware that is a possibility based on the way the fires have been burning,” he said.

As of Monday evening, the Caldor fire had burned more than 114,000 acres and was 9 percent contained, reported Cal Fire, the state’s firefighting agency. More than 400 homes have been destroyed and another 17,000 other structures are threatened. Thousands of people in El Dorado County have been urged to leave their homes or to prepare to do so, according to the governor’s office.

Just across the state line in Nevada, some schools in the Reno-Sparks area and in Lake Tahoe were closed Monday because of wildfire smoke.

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.

Mr. Porter said that over the next week, the southern part of California would see a low-to-moderate risk for new fires, which will allow officials to shift firefighting resources to the north, where the risk for new fires will be slightly higher.

There are at least 10 other fires burning throughout California, particularly in the north. The McFarland fire near Redding, has burned 118,000 acres and was 66 percent contained, according to a New York Times wildfire tracker. The monument fire, also near Redding, has burned 150,000 acres and was 20 percent contained. The Dixie fire, the second-largest on record in California, continues to spread, burning more than 720,000 acres at 38 percent containment.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to assist state and local wildfire response and recovery efforts in eight counties. The request is in direct response to the Dixie, Antelope, McFarland, Monument and River fires. An additional request may be made for the Caldor fire.

There are more than 90 active large fires and complexes nationwide, including in Oregon, where a firefighter was killed when a tree fell on him. So far this year, more than 41,000 fires have burned about 4.5 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

“These are our days,” Mr. Porter said. “This is what we do. Every year we need to be ready for this type of activity.”

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