Saturday, September 4, 2021

Thirty-Seven Percent Containment at Lake Tahoe's Caldor Fire (VIDEO)

Extreme weather. All over the country. 

It's really biblical, and, frankly, all you can do sometimes is pray. It's all in His hands.

At the San Jose Mercury News, "Caldor Fire containment jumps to 37% as weather calms":

Friday a ‘monumental day’ for more than 4,500 crews battling blaze.

One week after the Caldor Fire made a terrifying push into the Lake Tahoe basin, a promising shift in weather conditions allowed crews to start gaining sizable containment of the Northern California wildfire that has threatened thousands of homes and forced mass evacuations in two states.

Thanks to cooler, more humid weather conditions, an influx of 1,000 more firefighters and the strengthening of lines on both western and eastern flanks of the fire, crews had contained about 37% of the blaze as of Saturday, more than doubling progress in the past week and evoking a cautious sense of optimism for the first time since the fire broke out in mid-August.

“It’s starting to come together,” said Cal Fire spokesman Capt. Keith Wade. “It seems like big containment jumps, but it’s days and days of work.”

Terror surrounding the blaze’s spread skyrocketed on the evening of Aug. 29, when it roared across the face of Echo Summit, flung embers that set spot fires across Highway 89 and crept down toward the beloved Tahoe Basin, home to more than 40,000 people and the iconic lake. Some 22,000 residents of South Lake Tahoe were ordered to evacuate, creating a massive traffic jam that lasted for hours.

But just two days later — as crews staved off flames from the communities of Christmas Valley and Meyers — a favorable shift in winds arrived before the fire could explode farther northeast, giving more than 4,500 firefighters the chance to clear new firebreaks with dozens of bulldozers, strike down dry trees, lay hoses near homes and drop 500-gallon buckets of water on hotspots.

By Saturday, with 13 large wildfires burning across California, nearly a third of personnel, engines, helicopters and even bulldozers battling the blazes were committed to the Caldor Fire — a massive effort that fire officials say is beginning to pay off. Overnight Friday, the wildfire grew just a few thousand acres to reach 214,017 acres total. High winds that gripped the region last weekend receded Wednesday and remained calmer through the rest of the week, according to the National Weather Service, bringing relief to hand crews charged with stopping spot fires that soared out a mile ahead of the fire and letting helicopters make more water drops. Temperatures meanwhile cooled slightly and humidity rose.

A thick layer of smoke bearing down over the fire also helped to block out the sun and quiet its spread, though it brought air quality to hazardous levels around South Lake Tahoe and blew smoke toward the Bay Area, where the Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a Spare the Air alert for Sunday...

Still more.