Caldor Fire: Thousands in Lake Tahoe Evacuated as Blaze Fueled by Strong Winds

Strong winds are fueling California's Caldor Fire as the blaze, just 20 percent contained, heads for Lake Tahoe.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from the area as the fire has continued to grow. Approximately 204,390 acres have been burned by the Caldor Fire so far, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The department, also known as Cal Fire, reported Tuesday night that fire behavior had "increased dramatically" due to strong winds and low humidity. The high wind speeds prompted long-range fire spotting on the ridgetops of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

On Wednesday, officials reported the fire remained "very active" overnight and that firefighters will face even more dry conditions and wind gusts up to 35 to 40 mph.

A "Red Flag" warning remained in effect for the Caldor Fire until 11 p.m. on Wednesday. The warning is Cal Fire's highest alert, and is issued for weather events that may result in extreme fire activity.

More than 500 homes have been destroyed, and roughly 35,000 are threatened, as the fire continues to spread. Officials don't anticipate the flames will be fully contained until September 13.

The Caldor Fire has forced evacuations for thousands of residents in South Lake Tahoe. The 22,000 people who reside in the resort city were forced to leave on Monday.

"This is a systematic evacuation, one neighborhood at a time," South Lake Tahoe police Lieutenant Travis Cabral said in a video posted to Facebook. "This allows us as law enforcement to reach our vulnerable population and provide people with the services they need to evacuate safely."

"I am asking you as our community to please remain calm," Cabral added.

Caldor Fire Update Lake Tahoe
The sun is blocked by smoke from the Caldor Fire as it burns near Caples Lake on August 31, 2021 in Kirkwood, California. The Caldor Fire is currently 18 percent contained, and heading toward Lake Tahoe. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Another 14 active fires continue to burn across California, including the massive Dixie Fire in the northern Sierra Nevada region.

More than 59,000 people have been evacuated from their homes due to wildfires burning across the state—according to the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services. A large portion of the evacuees, roughly 53,000, are located in El Dorado County.

The U.S. Forest Service announced Monday that all national forests in the state of California would be closed until September 17. Portions of major roadways, including Highway 88 in Amador County and Highway 50 in El Dorado County, also remain closed due to the Caldor Fire.

Additional information on evacuation orders and warnings can be found on Cal Fire's website.

Evacuation orders for the Caldor Fire have also expanded into Nevada. Douglas County officials on Tuesday told residents near the state line to leave. Affected communities include Upper Kingbsury, Central Kingsbury, Lower Kingsburg, Round Hill region and roads including Lower Elks Point, Lake Village and Lower Olivers.