In California, thousands of people are fleeing flames in a tourist area

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More than 7,000 km2 of the Caldorfire fire in western California in the United States threatens the southern shores of Lake Tahoe, which is very popular with tourists. Authorities ordered the evacuation of about 22,000 people Monday morning.

On Monday, August 30, thousands of people were ordered to evacuate along the southern coast of California. Known as the Caldor Fire, the wildfire has already covered more than 7,000 km2, destroying several hundred buildings and emitting dense smoke that pollutes northern California.

Thanks to prolonged winds and severe drought, the flames continued to advance towards South Lake Tahoe, a tourist town located on the shores of North America’s largest alpine lake on the border with Nevada.

“Conditions and fuels are historic,” Fire Commander Jeff Week told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We’re going to put out this fire. But it won’t be today.”

Chronic drought and climate crisis

The Caldor Fire is one of dozens of burns devastating western America affected by a prolonged drought that is further exacerbated by the effects of climate change. More than 7,000 km2 of vegetation has already been burned, more than twice the average at this time of year.

Tens of thousands of people had to flee the blaze, often without even knowing when they would return or find their homes intact. “I was warned to knock on the door at 10pm last night and get ready,” Corinne Cobel, a resident of South Lake Tahoe, told the Sacramento Bee newspaper. “At 10am this morning, it was the police who told us to leave. I was nervous,” he added. In all, about 22,000 people were ordered to leave the area Monday morning.

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On Sunday, the fire spread to the slopes of the twin bridges, where skiers generally enjoy the joys of winter sports. Ice cannons were used in an attempt to moisten the terrain, thus preventing fires.

Dixie fire

California Fire Chief Tom Porter said the cloud clearance caused nearly 80 km2 of fires to develop overnight. “When the air comes out, it removes the lid of your pot of boiling water,” it feels like a draft, he told Sacramento Bee. “It’s the same with fire,” he explained.

Further north, the gigantic Dixie fire continued to spread, sinking more than 3,000 km2 since its departure six weeks ago. On Monday morning, in California alone, more than 15,000 firefighters battled the ground against about fifteen large-scale wildfires.

Their numbers and intensities have multiplied in recent years in Western America, with a significant length of fire season. According to experts, this phenomenon is particularly associated with global warming: an increase in temperature, an increase in heat waves and rainfall in places make for an excellent fiery cocktail.

With AFP

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