NATIONAL NEWS

Huge wildfire near Lake Tahoe slows as weather improves

Sep 3, 2021, 3:03 PM
FILE: Highway 50 is deserted as South Lake Tahoe is under mandatory evacuation due to the Caldor Fi...
FILE: Highway 50 is deserted as South Lake Tahoe is under mandatory evacuation due to the Caldor Fire on September 1, 2021 in South Lake Tahoe, California. The Caldor Fire has burned over 200,000 acres, destroyed hundreds of structures and is currently 20 percent contained. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) — Better weather has slowed the growth of the huge California wildfire near Lake Tahoe resort communities, authorities said Friday.

The Caldor Fire remained only a few miles from the city of South Lake Tahoe, which was emptied of 22,000 residents days ago, along with casinos and shops across the state line in Nevada, but no significant fire activity occurred since Thursday, officials said.

Tim Ernst, an operations section chief, said fire officials were cautiously optimistic thanks to “a lot of hard work” by firefighters over the past two weeks.

The nearly 333-square-mile (862-square-kilometer) fire was not making any significant advances and was not challenging containment lines in long sections of its perimeter, but Ernst said “the risk is still out there” with some areas that remained hot.

Crews were restoring utility services, knocking down hazardous trees and putting out smoldering hot spots to prepare certain areas for repopulation, but the timeline for allowing residents back to their home remains unclear, said Capt. Parker Wilbourn, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“At this point, we don’t know. We’re doing everything we can to mop up the fire and clean up areas that need to be cleaned up,” Wilbourn said.

The fire had been driven northeast on a course leading to South Lake Tahoe for days by southwestern winds, but that pattern ended this week. Calmer winds and increased humidity Thursday and Friday helped crews increase containment of the blaze to 29%.

“Very positive trends with regards to weather,” said Dean Gould, a U.S. Forest Service administrator. “That’s huge for us. Let’s take full advantage of it while we have this window.”

With the fire growing at the smallest rate in two weeks, he said, “Things are clearly heading in the right direction for us.”

Amid the positive outlook, incident meteorologist Jim Dudley warned that the air mass in the Sierra Nevada drains downslope every night and then sloshes upslope during the day and that the region’s terrain of ridges and deep canyons can create winds that go in “squirrely directions.”

“Just because we don’t have red flag wind conditions across the fire, the wind threat is still there and it’s all localized,” he warned.

The fire — which began Aug. 14, was named after the road where it started and raged through densely forested, craggy areas — was still considered a threat to more than 30,000 homes, businesses and other buildings ranging from cabins to ski resorts.

Residents who were forced to flee South Lake Tahoe earlier this week remained evacuated along with people across the state line in Douglas County, Nevada.

The resort area can easily accommodate 100,000 people on a busy weekend but was eerily empty just before the Labor Day weekend.

The wildfire dealt a major blow to an economy that heavily depends on tourism and was starting to rebound this summer from pandemic shutdowns.

“It’s a big hit for our local businesses and the workers who rely on a steady income to pay rent and put food on their table,” said Devin Middlebrook, mayor pro-tem of South Lake Tahoe.

He said the shutdown will also hurt the city, as it gets most of its revenue to pay for police and fire services, as well as road maintenance, from hotel taxes and sales taxes.

Friday’s forecast called for lighter winds but also extremely dry daytime weather, with a warming trend through the weekend as high pressure builds over the West, fire officials said.

More than 15,000 firefighters were battling dozens of California blazes that have destroyed at least 1,500 homes. One blaze, the Dixie Fire, was about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of the Caldor Fire. It is the second-largest wildfire in state history at about 1,350 square miles (3,496 square kilometers) and is 55% contained.

California has experienced increasingly larger and deadlier wildfires in recent years as climate change has made the West much warmer and drier over the past 30 years. Scientists have said weather will continue to be more extreme and wildfires more frequent, destructive and unpredictable. No deaths have been reported so far this fire season.

___

Nguyen reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writer John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

FILE: paddleboarders...
Christian Balderas

Paddleboarder shares experience of being attacked by a shark

While paddle boarding off the coast of Lovers Point on Thursday, David Stickler and his dog came face to face with a shark.
13 hours ago
...
Associated Press

Dad gets home detention for bribing Georgetown tennis coach

A Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty to bribing a Georgetown University tennis coach to get his daughter into the school was sentenced Thursday to about a month in home detention.
13 hours ago
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 06: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at her weekly news conference ...
Clare Foran and Kristin Wilson, CNN

House to vote Friday to pass Democrats’ sweeping health care and climate bill

The House of Representatives is on track to vote on Friday to pass Democrats' $750 billion health care, energy and climate bill.
13 hours ago
In this image taken from FOX19 Cincinnati video, FBI officials gather outside the FBI building in C...
Elizabeth Wolfe, Josh Campbell and Brynn Gingras, CNN

An armed man tried to enter the FBI’s Cincinnati office and was fatally shot after a standoff

An armed man suspected of trying to breach the FBI's Cincinnati field office on Thursday was killed after an hours-long standoff with law enforcement: here's what we know.
13 hours ago
A cashier holds a bottle of Johnson & Johnson's brand baby powder at a pharmacy in Salt Lake Ci...
Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

Johnson & Johnson will stop selling talc-based baby powder in 2023

Johnson & Johnson is abandoning talc-based baby powder next year and instead will make it with cornstarch.
13 hours ago
Anne Heche attends the Los Angeles premiere of Amazon Studio's "The Tender Bar" at TCL Chinese Thea...
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN

Anne Heche is ‘not expected to survive,’ family says in statement

Anne Heche, who remains hospitalized after crashing her vehicle into a Los Angeles residence last week, is "not expected to survive," according to a statement from her family and friends shared with CNN by a representative.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Huge wildfire near Lake Tahoe slows as weather improves