A massive fire in Northern California is spreading at alarming rates, burning hundreds of homes and approaching famed Lake Tahoe.
The Caldor fire, which began Aug. 14, has burned more than 177,000 acres and is only 14% contained. The blaze has led to mass evacuations, destroyed over 600 homes and other buildings, and is threatening thousands more.
Videos showed miles-long lines of traffic as people sought to escape.
“There is fire activity in California that we have never seen before,” Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter said in a press briefing on Monday. The fire chief noted that the Caldor fire had shown an “unprecedented” spread of more than 20,000 acres on Sunday.
“Every acre can and will burn in this state,” the fire chief warned. “Be ready now.”
More than a dozen large fires were burning across the state Monday, with over 15,000 firefighters working to stop them.
The multiple fires burning throughout Northern California in recent weeks have caused unhealthful levels of smoke throughout the region.
The human-caused climate crisis has worsened wildfires in California in recent years. Four out of the five largest fires in state history took place last year alone in a record-breaking year for fires in the state. This year has already surpassed last year’s in terms of the number of acres burned by blazes by this time of year.
The Dixie fire, currently burning in Northern California, is now the second largest in state history. And the Caldor fire marks only the second time in California history that a wildfire crossed the Sierra Nevada, according to Cal Fire’s chief — the first was the Dixie fire just weeks ago.
August is only the beginning of the usual wildfire season in California.