“Firefighters are getting tired, they’re getting drained,” Cal Fire spokesman Dave Lauchner told CNN.
And in some places, those conditions can extend even longer.
“Most mountains and foothills in California are forecast to have above normal potential through September with areas prone to offshore winds likely to retain above normal potential into October and November in southern California,” the fire center said.
“We’ve been battling fires for months now. We’ve had the Dixie fire, which is over 800,000 acres, and then this fire, this fire has been going on for almost three weeks now,” Cal Fire’s Lauchner said, referring to the Caldor Fire.
In July, seven firefighters battling the Bootleg fire in Oregon had to quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus.
And this week, between 16 and 20 firefighters working on the Caldor Fire were sidelined due to possible exposure, Cal Fire’s Kevin Brown told CNN’s Stephanie Elam.
Multiple studies have linked rising carbon dioxide emissions and high temperatures to increased acreage of burning across the West, particularly in California.
And as fire conditions intensify, the ongoing drought in California continues to strain the state’s water resources. The levels of California’s two largest reservoirs — Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville — are currently at 43% and 34% of their historical averages, respectively, the drought monitor said.
Caldor Fire threatens resort city
The Caldor Fire that marched into the Lake Tahoe Basin this week has swelled to 210,893 acres and was 28% contained Thursday. The massive blaze saw reduced activity overnight due to calmer winds in the area, Cal Fire said.
The fire, which is one of the few wildfires to cross from one side of the vast Sierra Nevada Mountain range to the other, has forced some 20,000 residents in the resort city of South Lake Tahoe to flee. It’s been burning for nearly three weeks as it marches toward Nevada’s border.
“Extremely dry air will remain over the area for the next couple of days and also heat will be building in the area throughout the weekend into Labor Day,” CNN Weather Producer Robert Shackelford said. “Winds will not be as significant as past events, with some gusts being as high as 15 mph. But even a gust like this can help fires to spread.”
Evacuated residents should expect to stay out of their homes for the next couple of days,” said Cal Fire’s Brown. Even where there is no immediate threat, it takes time to inspect roadways, clear tree hazards and get utilities back up and running, Brown said Thursday.
The White House on Wednesday approved California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request for a presidential emergency declaration to receive direct federal aid for the Caldor Fire.
“The Department of Defense has trained and is deploying additional firefighters to support our ongoing firefighting efforts in California,” President Joe Biden said Thursday.
CNN’s Jennifer Gray, Dan Simon, Leslie Perrot, Stephanie Elam, Rachel Ramirez, Alexandra Meeks and Jason Kravarik contributed to this report.