Moving

Climate slows California wildfire, however flames maintain transferring

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http://wargereavy.com/project/more-opportunities-to-smile SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, California – Favorable weather helped firefighters trying to save communities on the southern end of Lake Tahoe from an approaching conflagration, but officials warned Wednesday that stiff winds and dry conditions mean homes in California’s Alpine Nevada region are in danger.

http://unasttropez.com/?p=808 “Finally some good news about the weather around this fire,” said Jim Dudley, a meteorologist assigned to the fire, at an evening briefing. Winds are expected to calm down significantly over the next few days, he said, but the risks remain with extremely low humidity.

The Caldor Fire stayed about three miles south of the recently evacuated city of South Lake Tahoe and moved northeast towards the California-Nevada state line, said Henry Herrera, a battalion chief at the agency also known as Cal Fire.

The crews were desperate to keep flames away from urban communities where houses are close together and malls, hotels, and other buildings would provide even more fuel for a fire that previously lived on trees, grass, and scattered houses and huts.

“We are still not out of the forest. The fire is still moving, ”said Herrera.

The fire burned toward Lake Tahoe from the southwest along California Highway 50, rose over a peak in the Sierra Nevada, and descended into the Tahoe Basin.

Thick smoke has enveloped the city of South Lake Tahoe, which is almost deserted at a time when it is usually teeming with tourists. On Monday, around 22,000 residents and thousands more from neighboring communities blocked the city’s main artery after being asked to leave.

South Lake Tahoe city officials said only a handful of residents defied the evacuation order.

Meanwhile, officers were preparing for the next possible phase of the firefight.

While evacuation holdouts and private firefighters feed on fire hydrants across the city, the South Tahoe Public Utility District urged people to turn off hoses, irrigation systems and sprinklers to ensure wells can pump at full capacity. This means that “the minute a firefighter hooks up a fire hydrant, it gets full pressure and as much water as possible comes out,” said Shelly Thomsen, spokeswoman for the utility company.

In the city, white pickup rental companies dropped private firefighters sent by insurance companies to irrigate homes and clean decks with water from public fire hydrants. Gas stations offered prices of $ 5 per gallon (per 3.8 liters). Motels had “no vacancies” signs.

As the flames moved towards the Heavenly ski area, officials turned on the mountain’s snowmaking machines to increase the humidity and slow down any flames.

To his wife’s horror, John Rhodes, 60, stayed nearby to defend the couple’s neighborhood in an unincorporated area south of South Lake Tahoe that burned in the 2007 Angora fire.

Rhodes and his neighbors, including several firefighters outside the service of other California agencies, hosed houses and ran sprinkler systems to create a perimeter around the neighborhood to complement official fire fighting in the area. Their water usage resulted in a call from the utility district, Rhodes said.

As a rookie firefighter, he admitted to having butterflies.

“I was curious to see how I would get up near the hot spot. These guys are trying to coach me, ”Rhodes said, pointing to his firefighter friends who refused to speak to a reporter.

The Caldor Fire emptied not only South Lake Tahoe, but also parts of neighboring Stateline, Nevada.

Nevada casino regulators said gambling has been suspended at Hard Rock Lake Tahoe, Montbleu Resort, Harrah’s and Harvey’s Lake Tahoe, where officials said their casinos were closed to the public but their hotels were hosting firefighters and displaced workers.

The fire has destroyed at least 700 houses and other buildings and scorched nearly 827 square kilometers since it broke out on August 14. It still threatens at least 33,000 other homes and buildings. It was 20% included on Wednesday.

More than 15,000 firefighters, with the help of crews outside the state, battled dozens of California flames, including another monstrous fire in the same area.

Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, adjutant general of California, said the state had also dispatched more than 1,000 National Guard soldiers, Airmen and Sailors, and 10 other states had dispatched around 1,250 additional guardsmen. Many of them provide air support, including 23 planes, some with buckets of water, others with systems that can drop fire retardants.

Baldwin described the working conditions as “very tough,” especially for the handcrews who cut through thick bushes with shovels and picks. “You work in very dangerous areas.”

A firefighter who was injured while fighting the Caldor fire last weekend was due to be hospitalized for a month after a skin graft. Richard Gerety III of Patterson, Calif., Suffered third degree burns on over 20% of his body, the Modesto Bee reported.

About 65 miles north of the Flame of the Lake Tahoe area, the Dixie Fire is the second largest forest fire in the state’s history at 1,320 square miles (3,415 square kilometers). The week-old fire led to new evacuation orders and warnings this week.

Climate change has made the west much warmer and drier over the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and forest fires more frequent, destructive and unpredictable, scientists say.

Tom O’Connell and his wife Linda awaited the fate of their home in nearby Meyers as they anchored their sailboat in Ventura Harbor. The two bedrooms they have owned for 40 years survived the angora fire that destroyed around 250 homes in 2007. They didn’t know if they would be lucky again.

“You worry about the things that you can have some control over,” said O’Connell. “We have no control over it.”

Laura Forvilly had planned to stay at her Stateline condo for as long as possible, but her adult children persuaded her to pack their things on Tuesday and leave before an evacuation warrant. She reached her sister’s house in nearby Reno, where the air was clear and the sky was blue.

She is not worried about her home or her business that offers cruises on the lake. But she is surprised how close the fire is.

“I’m so sorry our beautiful Tahoe is going through this,” Forvilly said. “It’s hard to believe that it actually happens so close to where we live and work.”

———

Har reported from San Francisco. Antczak reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press authors Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco, Ken Ritter in Reno, and Christopher Weber and Brian Melley in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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