The raging Caldor fire in northern California has burned more than 100,000 acres and destroyed more than 500 structures after surging over the weekend.
Fueled by warm winds and drought-stricken vegetation, the fire, burning south-west of Lake Tahoe, surged through more than 30,000 acres in two days and by Monday morning had consumed about 106,500 英亩.
Crews battling the blaze achieved 5% containment, helped by moderate humidity and lower overnight temperatures that helped calm the fire on Sunday night, but officials said the firefight through steep rugged terrain has been difficult.
“These are very, very dry drought-ridden areas that we are dealing with,” said Diana Swart, a spokesperson for the Amador El Dorado unit of Cal Fire. She said the forest understory was filled with dense layers of dead and dry leaves, branches, and stumps. “Everything is primed to start – we just haven’t had enough water,“ 她说.
Faced with threats from big blazes and the high risk for new ignitions, all national forests in northern California have been closed to the public through Labor Day, officials announced over the weekend.
Thousands have also been forced to flee the fires burning across California, as more communities remain under threat from the fast-moving flames. Already, close to 2,000 homes and other structures have been destroyed in the state, according to the California department of forestry and fire protection (Cal Fire), and the count continues.
Of those, 551 have been counted in the Caldor fire burn scar, which ripped through small towns tucked into the forested mountainsides in El Dorado county.
The blaze, which erupted on August 14, quickly exploded in size, overwhelming the few-hundred firefighters and other personnel fighting to contain it early on. Officials at the time noted that it was difficult to deploy enough resources from the start with so many other big fires burning across the region.
“A drawdown on resources is definitely a factor,” Swart said, mentioning the Dixie fire, which has burned more than 725,800 acres to the north and threatens homes in five counties. 多于 6,000 personnel are fighting to wrangle the blaze, which is now the largest single fire ever recorded in California and is 40% contained.
Drought is currently affecting close to half of the contiguous US, according to the US Drought Monitor. 多于 95% of California is classified as experiencing severe drought conditions and nearly half of the state stricken by exceptional drought, the agency’s highest classification. The climate crisis, which has intensified the dry conditions and increased heatwaves that bake moisture out of the environment, has played a direct role in the worsening wildfires that have been increasingly difficult to contain.
有 93 large fires total that have already burned more than 2.5m acres across 13 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, 并且超过 26,000 people are working to contain the conflagrations.
“The entire western United States is having fire problems right now,” Swart added. “When we can we will get resources from out of state, but they are also working their fires as well.”