Winds, heat and dry conditions are adding fuel to fires already burning across California.
Northern California’s forests have been hardest hit, with the Dixie and Caldor fires growing dramatically in the last few days.
Red flag warnings remain in place through Wednesday night. The multi-county Dixie fire in Northern California added another 36,000 acres to its monstrous size Wednesday. Having seared 844,081 acres, the fire was 52% contained, officials said.
In recent days, the Dixie fire has been fueled by the same red flag conditions affecting the nearby Caldor fire, which is moving toward South Lake Tahoe and threatening to cross state lines.
Strong winds and low humidity levels helped propel the Dixie fire southeast in the Grizzly Ridge and Ward Creek area, officials said, as well as north toward the burn scar of the Walker fire.
“Mother Nature is not helping us fight this fire at all,” incident meteorologist Jack Messick said Tuesday evening. “We are very warm, we are extremely dry, and we are going to continue to be breezy.”
Winds were expected to lessen somewhat Wednesday, he said, although gusts in the 20-28 mph range were still expected, which can fan flames and send embers flying.“This makes firefighting very difficult,” Messick said. “Fires stay intense, they spread rapidly, so it’s very hard to get around.”
At a news conference Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the Dixie and Caldor fires were the two most worrisome of the 15 large fires burning in the state. Both fires this month became the first to burn from one side of the Sierra to the other.
Smoke from the Dixie fire will continue to contribute to poor air quality throughout the region, officials said. Areas near Chester are expected to receive the worst of its unhealthful effects.—AP