An explosive wildfire rages southwest of Lake Tahoe, sparking fears in towns and tourist communities near the famous alpine lake.
President Thom Porter, director of the Fire Center, said the Kaldor fire, which is only 9% contained, has become the nation’s number one priority for firefighting resources. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“She’s knocking on the door of the Lake Tahoe Basin,” Porter said. “We have every effort to keep it out of the basin but we also need to be aware that this is a possibility based on the way the fires started.”
Porter said he personally did not believe the flames would enter the aquarium, but that he could be proven wrong.
The Kaldor Fire burned nearly 180 square miles (466 square kilometers) of El Dorado National Forest and destroyed nearly 500 buildings. More than 17,000 buildings were still under threat.
Smoke from a fire Monday forced the closure of public schools in parts of the Lake Tahoe area and across the state’s border with Nevada in the Reno and Sparks area.
The fire is just one of dozens of large wildfires that have raged across California.
The Dixie Fire, which has burned more than 1,130 square miles in the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades, was contained by Monday evening at 40%.
On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom requested a presidential proclamation of a major disaster for eight counties, Mark Gilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services, said at a news briefing near Sacramento.
Gilarducci said the declaration, if approved, would provide a wide range of aid, including housing, food aid, unemployment and government emergency costs.
He said nearly 43,000 Californians are under evacuation orders and more than 500 families are in shelters.
While southern California has so far been spared widespread wildfires this year, Los Angeles officials on Monday urged residents to be aware of what’s happening in the north because the area’s high fire season is usually late in the year when the dry, stormy Santa Ana winds blow . from the interior and flowing towards the coast.
“This awareness will help us when it happens here in Southern California,” Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said during a news briefing. The combination of spring growth dried up by summer heat and high winds creates a “dangerous condition that can lead to large, fast-moving fires,” he said.
California’s fires were among more than 90 active large fires in the United States, according to the Interagency National Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.
In Oregon, officials said a firefighter died Monday while battling a wildfire in southeast Eugene.