A wind-driven wildfire continued to advance towards Lake Tahoe, clouding the alpine vacation and tourist spot on the California-Nevada state line in a sickly yellow layer of smoke. The Caldor fire on Wednesday evening was less than two dozen miles (37km) from Lake Tahoe, at times burning 1,000 acres (405 hectares) of land an hour. Communities of South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City on the lake’s west shore had the nation’s worst air pollution at mid-morning Wednesday.
The largest wildfire in the US torched more dry forest landscape in Oregon on Sunday, one of dozens of major blazes burning across the west as critically dangerous fire weather loomed in the coming days. The destructive Bootleg Fire just north of the California border grew to more than 476 sq miles (1,210 sq km). It is one of at least 70 large wildfires are burning across the US west and nearby states.
An “extreme red-flag warning” has been issued in California over the Getty Fire, the first such alert of its kind. Issued by the Los Angeles weather service, it covers Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties. Winds are expected to reach 80mph (128km/h) and there is concern they will fan the fire, which has already burned through 658 acres.
Tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate as wildfires rage in California, threatening large areas including its famous wine-growing region. At least 40,000 fled their homes in the foothills north of Los Angeles, with winds of up to 40mph fanning the flames and creating huge plumes of smoke in the Santa Clarita area.
According to the National Weather Service, rains predicted for the Northern California area affected by wildfires could cause wet ash to flow down steep inclines. This could complicate the search for human remains in the fire. President Trump is under fire for comparing the California wildfires to Finland and suggesting ‘raking’ as a preventative solution.
The ‘Camp Fire’ death toll rose to 48 on Tuesday as the remains of six more victims were found in Northern California. The fire has burned nearly 130,000 acres of land. Officials say the fire is 35% contained. Approximately 9,000 firefighters have been working to combat the deadliest wildfires in state history.
Wildfires have burned more than 2m acres (809,000 hectares) in California this year, setting a state record even as crews battled dozens of growing blazes in sweltering temperatures Monday that strained the electrical grid and threatened power outages for millions. Firefighters struggled to corral several dangerous blazes ahead of dry, hot winds predicted to raise fire danger to critical levels in the coming days.
The Northern California Carr Fire which forced over 38,000 people to evacuate their homes and killed at least six slowed down on Sunday after days of growth. The Carr Fire is the most destructive of nearly 90 wildfires burning from Texas to Oregon. Officials said they hope to ‘gain some ground’ on the fire.
US President Donald Trump has threatened to cut federal funding for the wildfires sweeping California, in a Twitter spat with the state’s governor. Nearly 100,000 acres have been destroyed by wildfires in recent weeks, and thousands have been forced from their homes. Mr Trump blamed Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, saying he had done a “terrible job of forest management”.
A power company is cutting electricity to around 800,000 homes, businesses and other locations in Northern California, in an attempt to prevent wildfires. Large swathes of the San Francisco Bay Area – though not the city itself – have lost power, angering residents. The region’s utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), has warned the shutdown could last several days.