As Paradise, California works to buy up properties devastated by the 2018 Camp Fire to create a more fire-resilient barrier for the still-rebuilding town, Northern California is under a siege of wildfire and smoke. Nearly 43,000 Californians are under evacuation orders as more than 13,500 firefighters battle a dozen large wildfires across the state. The most urgent, officials said Monday, was the Caldor Fire which blew through the 100,000-acre mark over the weekend, burning more than 30,000 acres in two days — a rate of just under eight football fields every minute — and was “knocking on the door of the Lake Tahoe basin,” Cal Fire Director Thom Porter told reporters Monday.
The fire has already incinerated more than 500 buildings of the nearly 2,000 buildings destroyed statewide this year. Just 9% contained, the Caldor fire threatened more than 17,000 structures as of Monday evening and smoke from its flames made Lake Tahoe’s air quality the worst in the nation.
The megadrought across the American West, made worse by human-caused climate change, is not only supercharging wildfires in California, but hampering efforts to contain them as well. “The entire western United States is having fire problems right now,” Diana Swart, a spokesperson for the Amador El Dorado unit of Cal Fire, told the Guardian. “When we can we will get resources from out of state, but they are also working their fires as well.” (Paradise: NPR; Statewide: AP; Caldor Fire: The Guardian, KCRA Sacramento , New York Times $, CNN, New York Times $, Mercury News, Tahoe Daily Tribune; Air quality: LA TImes $; Climate Signals background: Wildfires, Drought, 2021 Western wildfire season)