Speed Reads

California Burning

California's Caldor Fire prompts evacuation warnings for South Lake Tahoe

Fire officials in California extended evacuation warnings to the southern end of Lake Tahoe on Sunday night and issued mandatory warnings for communities just south of South Tahoe as the Caldor Fire pushed northward to within a few miles of the Lake Tahoe Basin. "Today's been a rough day and there's no bones about it," said Jeff Marsoleis, forest supervisor for El Dorado National Forest. After earlier hopes of stopping the fire's eastward spread, "today it let loose." And fire crews are bracing for worse weather ahead.

The National Weather Service on Sunday issued red flag warnings for Monday and Tuesday, predicting gusty wind conditions in the bone-dry Northern Sierra and temperatures that could reach into the triple digits. The mountainous terrain is making containing the fire hard, but fighting it in the Tahoe Basin would be treacherous, due to canyons and deep drainage fissures, fire behavior analyst Steven Volmer tells the Los Angeles Times. "We have a saying: Where water flows, fire goes."

The Caldor Fire, which broke out Aug. 14, was 19 percent contained and has burned nearly 245 square miles and more than 600 structures, The Associated Press reports. Thousands more are under threat. More than 15,2000 firefighters are battling more than a dozen large fires across the state, including the second-largest fire in recorded California history, the Dixie Fire, now 48 percent contained. The Pentagon said Saturday it is sending 200 Army soldiers, eight modified Air Force C-130 aircraft, and other aid from Washington state down to Northern California to aid the firefighting effort.