Biden declares state of emergency in California as Caldor fire heads for Nevada: Lake Tahoe catches a break as weaker-than-predicted winds save it from obliteration

 Firefighters held their ground against a massive California wildfire Thursday that threatened the Lake Tahoe area, as authorities warned against continuing dangers.

Strong winds that drove the Caldor Fire east through high elevations of the Sierra Nevada have faded, but localized gusts continued to pose a threat in the extremely dry woodlands, despite improving humidity levels.

'We lost the winds aloft,' incident meteorologist Jim Dudley told reporters during a morning briefing. 'It's a good day today to not have gusty winds up on the ridges. What we are going to have are terrain-driven winds' that happen as the sun heats the ground.

The Caldor Fire covered more than 328 square miles and was 25% contained early Thursday. Its northeast tip was south of the city of South Lake Tahoe and nearing the California-Nevada state line.    

President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for California late Wednesday and ordered federal assistance to support efforts battling the Caldor wildfire.

But while the slowing winds might have spared Lake Tahoe, the blaze is now inching toward Nevada, California's easterly neighbor within days.

As of late Wednesday, the fire raged about five miles from the Nevada state line, The Los Angeles Times reported. 

'I’d be surprised if it doesn’t make it to Nevada in the next day or so,' Craig Clements, director of the Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center at San Jose State University, told the outlet.

 'This is a difficult fire to forecast. But our model shows it's going to keep going east.' 

The Caldor fire continued to rage near South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Wednesday

The Caldor fire continued to rage near South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Wednesday

President Joe Biden declared a federal emergency for the region late Tuesday, ordering FEMA to deploy any necessary resources to firefighting efforts. The blaze has torn through nearly 208,000 acres

President Joe Biden declared a federal emergency for the region late Tuesday, ordering FEMA to deploy any necessary resources to firefighting efforts. The blaze has torn through nearly 208,000 acres

The fire was 23 percent contained, according to CalFire's most recent update Wednesday at  7:58 pm. PST.

The president’s emergency declaration authorizes Federal Emergency Management Agency to 'coordinate all disaster relief efforts' related to the fire.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Branch can now provide any necessary resources and equipment to the area, at the behest of California Governor Gavin Newsom, who previously called on Biden to declare a federal emergency.  

Authorities say the fire is at least 23 percent contained, although it's now heading east toward the Nevada border

Authorities say the fire is at least 23 percent contained, although it's now heading east toward the Nevada border

A campaign sign for Larry Elder, who wants to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom during an upcoming recall election, sits outside a fire that has injured at least five people

A campaign sign for Larry Elder, who wants to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom during an upcoming recall election, sits outside a fire that has injured at least five people

The Caldor wildfire was slowed Wednesday as firefighters expressed relief that wind gusts did not push it closer to South Lake Tahoe.

The town was deserted on Wednesday after tens of thousands of residents evacuated in fear of the fast approaching Caldor wildfire, which was about three-and-a-half miles within reach.  

Evacuees from the area between Pollock Pines and Camino along Highway 50 were permitted to return home Wednesday afternoon as evacuation orders were downgraded to warnings.

The blaze has destroyed at least 780 structures and damaged 44 others. Five people have been injured, including two firefighters who suffered third-degree burns

Officials warned on Wednesday that stiff winds and dry conditions meant that homes in the California-Nevada alpine region are still in danger.

'We lucked out a little bit yesterday with some of the winds that didn't come up quite as hard as we expected them to,' Tim Ernst, an operations section chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told firefighters in a briefing. 

 'We were fortunate the fire did not make as strong a push into Tahoe as it did the previous day.'


Crews tried desperately to keep flames away from urban communities, where houses are close together and shopping centers, hotels and other structures would provide even more fuel for a fire that so far has been feeding on trees, grasses and scattered homes and cabins.

'We're still not out of the woods. The fire is still moving,' he said.

The fire has been burning toward Lake Tahoe from the southwest along California Highway 50, climbing over a Sierra Nevada summit and descending into the Tahoe Basin.

A helicopter carrying water prepares to make a drop on the massive fire in California's Eldorado National Forest

A helicopter carrying water prepares to make a drop on the massive fire in California's Eldorado National Forest

Governor Gavin Newsom, seen touring the fire area, asked President Joe Biden to declare a federal emergency

Governor Gavin Newsom, seen touring the fire area, asked President Joe Biden to declare a federal emergency

Biden approved California's emergency declaration, authorizing FEMA to send help and resources

Biden approved California's emergency declaration, authorizing FEMA to send help and resources

The fire has been burning toward Lake Tahoe from the southwest along California Highway 50, climbing over a Sierra Nevada summit and descending into the Tahoe Basin.

More than 50,000 people across northeast California are under evacuation orders to avoid the fire including the 22,000 residents of the tourist trap of South Lake Tahoe.   

Firefighters are now trying to steer Caldor into the areas of land to that were singed by the Tamarack fire - a smaller, more contained blaze. 

Tamarack is 82 percent contained and is nine miles from South Lake Tahoe. Fire crews hope they can steer the more aggressive Caldor fire flames towards the Tamarack, which they think will stop it in its tracks and save the tourist town. 

'It's a fresh burn, and if we get it steered into there... that basically stops the spread of fire. It's a very valid tactic that we're trying to do,' Eric Schwab, an operations section chief with Cal Fire, said on Tuesday afternoon. 

Tahoe hasn't seen a fire of this size or ferocity for some 80 years and scientists believe prolonged periods of abnormally high temperatures, coupled with dry and windy conditions, make this year particularly dangerous.

The rush to get out on Tuesday created a surge in traffic on the roads and a race for taxis among those who do not have access to their own cars but by Wednesday, South Lake Tahoe was a ghost town. 

A firefighter knocks down hotspots in South Lake Tahoe, California

A firefighter knocks down hotspots in South Lake Tahoe, California

Firefighters lit a backfire to prevent the Caldor fire from spreading near South Lake Tahoe

Firefighters lit a backfire to prevent the Caldor fire from spreading near South Lake Tahoe

A bear seeking refuge from the smoke and flames crosses a deserted road in South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday. There are growing concerns for the wildlife in the area

A bear seeking refuge from the smoke and flames crosses a deserted road in South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday. There are growing concerns for the wildlife in the area 

The fire is moving at a frightening pace. 

South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tamara Wallace told CNN on Tuesday night she expected it to take longer to reach the Lake Tahoe basin. 

'There was a huge amount of granite between the fire and us and I woke up on Sunday and it had, it had jumped that granite and now it is in the Lake Tahoe basin and homes are threatened and our community is threatened and I never thought that was possible,' she said. 

She said it took just five hours to evacuate the town and that most residents heeded the orders to leave. 

'There was a lot of traffic, but we were able to evacuate our city in just five hours, which is good," she said. "We do have a very important holiday weekend. 

'But we have good summers so Labor Day is sort of the last hurrah and, honestly, people's lives are more important than worrying about tourism,' she said.

A Lyft XL ride from South Lake Tahoe to Reno, Nevada, normally costs $200 but on Tuesday it soared to nearly eight times as much as people rushed to beat the flames. 

Biden declares state of emergency in California as Caldor fire heads for Nevada: Lake Tahoe catches a break as weaker-than-predicted winds save it from obliteration Biden declares state of emergency in California as Caldor fire heads for Nevada: Lake Tahoe catches a break as weaker-than-predicted winds save it from obliteration Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 10:39 Rating: 5

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