a Forest fire burning for a week in northern California, United States, was still growing out of control, in what is one of a dozen major conflagrations in a drought-stricken state that have destroyed hundreds of structures and forced thousands of people to evacuate.
There was no containment Sunday for the Caldor fire, which had wiped out about 399 square kilometers (154 square miles) of trees and shrubs in the northern Sierra Nevada. The cause of the fire, which broke out on August 14, was still under investigation and it is not ruled out that it was the product of human action.
The firefighters hoped to profit from a calmer climate and lower temperatures a day after gusts of wind carried the fire across Federal Highway 50, threatening more remote communities in El Dorado County.
The erratic winds made blow up the embers into dry branches, creating new ignition points and challenging teams trying to fight the flames on rough terrain.
“We know that this fire has done things that nobody could predictBut that’s what fighting fires have been like in the state this year, ” said Jeff Marsolais, El Dorado National Forest Chief Supervisor.
Several large wildfires have incinerated at least 700 homes, many of them in or around the Greenville and Grizzly Flats communities of the Sierra Nevada. Around 13,000 residences remained under threat in locations hidden in picturesque forests.
The fires have consumed approximately 6,000 square kilometers (2,300 square miles) and have sent smoke to the east coast of the United States. They burned in grass, brush and forest that are extremely dry after two years of a drought that has likely been exacerbated by climate change.
Nine California National Forests have been closed by the threat of fires.
Northwest of the Caldor fire, the massive Dixie fire continued to spread. In five weeks, the fire located 282 kilometers (175 miles) northeast of San Francisco, has become the second largest of state history and has blackened an area twice the size of Los Angeles. It was 37% contained.
California is one of a dozen states, mostly in the west of the nation, where 94 fires oversized burned until Sunday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
The fires have intensified across the western United States, creating a nearly year-round season. That has exhausted the firefighters.
Fire patterns used to migrate seasonally from the Southwest to the Rocky Mountains, and to the Pacific Northwest and then to California, allowing fire crews to move from place to place, said Anthony Scardina, deputy regional forest guard for the US Forest Service.