Firefighters battling the Caldor Fire near South Lake Tahoe, California, have been dealing with strong winds and aren't expected to get a break until late Wednesday night.
On Tuesday, gusts of more than 50 mph were reported, and crews are worried about embers flying that could spark new fires. Forecasters say extreme winds moving to the east and southeast are expected through 11 p.m. PT Wednesday. As the Caldor Fire entered the Lake Tahoe Basin early Tuesday, there were "turbulent winds," David Lauchner, a battalion chief with the Sacramento Fire Department, told the Los Angeles Times. He described the blaze as "crazy" and said it's been doing "stuff I've never seen before."
Although there are no flames in South Lake Tahoe and fire crews are hoping to keep it that way, the resort town was put under a mandatory evacuation order on Monday so residents and visitors would have enough time to get out safely. The Caldor Fire jumped between Highway 50 and Highway 89 on Tuesday, and is now threatening the community of Meyers and the Echo Summit mountain pass. As of Tuesday morning, it had burned 190,000 acres and was just 16 percent contained.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Chris Anthony on Monday evening gave a bleak assessment of the situation, saying that crews have historically "used terms such as 'anomaly,' 'unprecedented,' or 'extreme' to describe the wildfires that we have seen burn throughout the state over the past 10 to 20 years. These terms are no longer appropriate given the clear trends associated with drought, changing climate, and unresilient forest stands."