Police on Wednesday pressed charges against eight people including two building owners in a case filed over the devastating fire incident on February 20, 2019 that killed at least 71 people. Abdul Kaiyum, officer-in-charge of Chawkbazar Police Station and also the investigation officer of the case, submitted the chargesheet before the court of Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Tariqul Islam on Tuesday. Read: Chawkbazar fire: Wahed Mansion owner’s sons remanded The court fixed March 23 for hearing on the charge framing in the case. The chargesheeted accused are-owners of Wahed Mension Mohammad Hasan Sultan and his brother Hossain Sultan, Imtiaz Ahmed, Mozammel Iqbal, Mozaffar Uddin, Mohammad Jawad Atique, Md Nabil and Mohammad Kashif. A total of 71 people were killed and dozens others were injured in the fire that broke out at Wahed Mansion in Churihatta of Dhaka’s Chawkbazar and raged through four other adjacent buildings in Chawkbazar on February 20, 2019. Two cases were filed in this connection. Read: Chawkbazar fire: Wahed Mansion owner’s 2 sons sent to jail A local resident filed a case against the owners of the building with Chawkbazar model police station. According to the case, the building owners rented out different floors of their four storeyed building as storehouse of flammable substances.
A devastating fire at India’s Petrapole land port has burnt 12 trucks waiting in a parking lot to enter Bangladesh’s Benapole land port with imported cotton. The fire broke out in the early hours of Sunday at Jayantipur Luxmi truck parking lot and quickly engulfed trucks parked there. However, no casualties have been reported. Read: 10 dead in India Covid hospital fire Kartik Chakraborty, general secretary of the Petrapole Port Staff Welfare Association of India, said a truck with cotton waiting to be exported to Bangladesh caught fire in the Jayantipur Lakshi truck parking lot near Petrapole port this morning. Later, fire broke out in 11 other cotton trucks nearby and they were also burnt down. The other cotton loaded trucks managed to move elsewhere, he said On information, members of the fire service arrived from Banga and Gobradanga and doused the fire at around 5 am after hours of effort. Sajedur Rahman, general secretary of the Benapole Port CNDF Agents Staff Association, said, "I have heard from traders on the other side that a fire broke out in 12 cotton loaded trucks to be imported to Bangladesh." Shri Rakesh Kumar, Deputy Director of Petrapole Port said Rs 8 crore worth of cotton was damaged in the fire. A five-member committee has been formed to probe the incident.
A powerful storm barreled toward Southern California after flooding highways, toppling trees and causing mud flows in areas burned bare by recent fires across the northern part of the state. Drenching showers and strong winds accompanied the weekend’s arrival of an atmospheric river — a long and wide plume of moisture pulled in from the Pacific Ocean. The National Weather Service’s Sacramento office warned of “potentially historic rain.” Flooding was reported across the San Francisco Bay Area, closing streets in Berkeley, inundating Oakland’s Bay Bridge toll plaza and overflowing rivers in Napa and Sonoma counties. Power poles were downed and tens of thousands of people in the North Bay were without electricity. By Sunday morning, Mount Tamalpais just north of San Francisco had recorded a half foot (15 centimeters) of rainfall during the previous 12 hours, the weather service said. Read:Plane crash kills 2, burns homes in California neighborhood “Some of our higher elevation locations could see 6, 7, 8 inches of rain before we’re all said and done,” weather service meteorologist Sean Miller said. About 150 miles (241 kilometers) to the north, the California Highway Patrol closed a stretch of State Route 70 in Butte and Plumas counties because of multiple landslides within the massive Dixie Fire burn scar. “We have already had several collisions this morning for vehicles hydroplaning, numerous trees falling, and several roadways that are experiencing flooding,” the highway patrol’s office in Oroville tweeted on Sunday. “If you can stay home and off the roads today, please do. If you are out on the roads, please use extreme caution.” The same storm system also slammed Oregon and Washington state, causing power outages affecting tens of thousands of people. Two people were killed when a tree fell on a vehicle in the greater Seattle area. Eastside Fire & Rescue responded to the scene of the fatalaties near Preston, Washington, which is about 20 miles east of Seattle. In California’s Colusa and Yolo counties, state highways 16 and 20 were shut for several miles due to mudslides, the state Department of Transportation said. Burn areas remain a concern, as land devoid of vegetation can’t soak up heavy rainfall as quickly, increasing the likelihood of flash flooding. “If you are in the vicinity of a recent burn scar and haven’t already, prepare now for likely debris flows,” the Sacramento weather service tweeted. “If you are told to evacuate by local officials, or you feel threatened, do not hesitate to do so. If it is too late to evacuate, get to higher ground.” South of San Francisco, evacuation orders were in effect in the Santa Cruz Mountains over concerns that several inches of rain could trigger debris flows in the CZU Lightning Complex Fire burn scar when the storm moves through early Monday. Further south, parts of western Santa Barbara County saw evacuation warnings upgraded to orders in the area burned by this month’s Alisal Fire. Read: California wildfire dangers may be spreading south Strong winds were also expected, with gusts of up to 60 mph (97 kph) at the windiest spots in Northern California. Elevations above 9,000 feet (2,745 meters) in the Sierra Nevada could get 18 inches of snow or more from Sunday until Monday morning. Recent storms have helped contain some of the nation’s largest wildfires this year. But it remains to be seen if the wet weather will make a dent in the drought that’s plaguing California and the western United States. California’s climate is hotter and drier now and that means the rain and snow that does fall is likely to evaporate or absorb into the soil. California’s 2021 water year, which ended Sept. 30, was the second driest on record and last year’s was the fifth driest on record. Some of the state’s most important reservoirs are at record low levels.
President Joe Biden on Monday used his first Western swing in office to hold out the wildfires burning across the region as an argument for his $3.5 trillion rebuilding plans, calling year-round fires and other extreme weather a climate change reality the nation can no longer ignore. “We can’t ignore the reality that these wildfires are being supercharged by climate change,” Biden said, noting that catastrophic weather doesn’t strike based on partisan ideology. “It isn’t about red or blue states. It’s about fires. Just fires.” With stops in Idaho and California, Biden sought to boost support for his big rebuilding plans, saying every dollar spent on “resilience” would save $6 in future costs. And he said the rebuilding must go beyond simply restoring damaged systems and instead ensure communities can withstand such crises. “These fires are blinking ‘code red’ for our nation. They’re gaining frequency and ferocity,” Biden said after concluding an aerial tour of the Caldor Fire that threatened communities around Lake Tahoe. “We know what we have to do.” The president’s two-day Western swing comes at a critical juncture for a central plank of his legislative agenda. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are working to assemble details of the infrastructure-plus plan — and how to pay for it, a concern not just for Republicans. A key Democratic senator said Sunday that he will not vote for a package so large. Read: Biden to survey wildfire damage, make case for spending plan In California, Biden took an aerial tour of land charred by the Caldor Fire after getting a briefing from officials at the state emergency services office. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who faces a recall vote Tuesday, joined Biden for the briefing. Newsom joked that the emergency center had become his office because fire season has “just kept going,” as he amplified Biden’s message. “This has been a hard year and a half,” Newsom said. During an earlier briefing in Boise at the National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates the government’s wildfire response, Biden noted that wildfires start earlier every year and that this year they have scorched 5.4 million acres. “That’s larger than the entire state of New Jersey,” Biden said. “The reality is we have a global warming problem, a serious global warming problem, and it’s consequential, and what’s going to happen is, things are not going to go back,” he said. Biden, who visits Denver on Tuesday before returning to Washington, aimed to link the increasing frequency of wildfires, drought, floods and other extreme weather events to what he and scientists say is a need to invest billions in combating climate change, along with vastly expanding the nation’s social safety net. The president argued for spending now to make the future effects of climate change less costly, as he did during recent stops in Louisiana, New York and New Jersey — all states that suffered millions of dollars in flood and other damage and scores of deaths after Hurricane Ida. Read: Lake Tahoe residents relieved homes spared from wildfire Biden also praised firefighters for the life-threatening risks they take, and discussed the administration’s recent use of a wartime law to boost supplies of firehoses from the U.S. Forest Service’s primary supplier, an Oklahoma City nonprofit called NewView Oklahoma. In deep-red Idaho, several opposing groups leveraged Biden’s visit as a way to show resistance to his administration. GOP gubernatorial candidates, an anti-vaccine organization and a far-right group were among those urging people to turn out against the president. More than 1,000 protesters did so, gathering in Boise before Biden arrived to express displeasure with his coronavirus plan, the election and other issues. Chris Burns, a 62-year-old from Boise, said, “I’m against everything Biden is for.” Burns was especially displeased with a sweeping new vaccine mandate for 100 million people that Biden announced last week. “He’s acting like a dictator,” Burns said. The White House is trying to turn the corner after a difficult month dominated by a chaotic and violent U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the surging delta COVID-19 variant that have upended what the president had hoped would mark a summer in which the nation was finally freed from the coronavirus. Biden acknowledged his polling numbers have dipped in recent weeks, but argued his agenda is “overwhelmingly popular” with the public. He said he expects his Republican opponents to attack him instead of debating him on the merits of his spending plan. Besides the Republican opposition in Congress, Biden needs to overcome the skepticism of two key centrist Democrats in the closely divided Senate. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have expressed concerns about the size of the $3.5 trillion spending package. Read:California wildfire dangers may be spreading south Manchin said Sunday, “I cannot support $3.5 trillion,” citing his opposition to a proposed increase in the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and vast new social spending envisioned by the president. Manchin also complained about a process he said feels rushed. In California, Biden appeared to respond to those concerned about the plan’s size, saying the cost “may be” as much as $3.5 trillion and would be spread out over 10 years, a period during which the economy is expected to grow. The 100-member Senate is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Given solid GOP opposition, Biden’s plan cannot pass the Senate without Manchin or Sinema’s support. The climate provisions in Biden’s plans include tax incentives for clean energy and electric vehicles, investments to transition the economy away from fossil fuels and toward renewable sources such as wind and solar power, and creation of a civilian climate corps. The Biden administration in June laid out a strategy to deal with the growing wildfire threat, which included hiring more federal firefighters and implementing new technologies to detect and address fires quickly. Last month, the president approved a disaster declaration for California, providing federal aid for the counties affected by the Dixie and River fires. He issued another disaster declaration for the state just before Monday’s visit aimed at areas affected by the Caldor Fire.
While firefighters confront aggressive winds and flames in some southeast sections of the Caldor Fire, many crews are shifting their focus to repairing areas for residents to return in the coming days — a sign of confidence that they’ll continue to make progress containing the wildfire. Officials lifted the mandatory evacuation order for the 22,000 residents of South Lake Tahoe on Sunday, allowing some residents to trickle back into the smoke-cloaked city. But the wildfire remains 48% and areas south of the resort town like Meyers and the ski resort Kirkwood remain battlefields for the more than 5,000 personnel working to contain the 338 square-mile (876 square-kilometer) wildfire from threatening Lake Tahoe, the surrounding resort communities and the homes of employees who staff casinos, restaurants and ski resorts. Read: Lake Tahoe residents relieved homes spared from wildfire “We’re also looking long term — what’s going to happen, four, five or six days down the road. We want to make sure we’re planning and having stuff ready and completed so that when (repopulation) comes available,” Cal Fire official John Davis said. “And if it comes sooner, we are already in the planning process for the whole area that’s still under evacuation order.” When the Caldor Fire gobbled up pine trees and crossed the Sierra Nevada last week, South Lake Tahoe, transformed into a ghost town. The city appeared slightly rebounded on Monday, yet mostly empty compared to normal holiday weekends. “I was honestly convinced this place was gonna go down,” Lake Tahoe Community College student Dakota Jones said Monday upon his return. “It was nice to see that I was wrong.” The lifting of mandatory evacuation orders for the Tahoe area marked a milestone in the fight against the Caldor Fire, which erupted Aug. 14 and spread across dense forests, tree-dotted granite cliffs and scattered cabins and hamlets in the northern Sierra Nevada. At its peak, the fire was burning as many as 1,000 acres an hour. Through tactics including bulldozing defense lines and air-dropping 1,600 gallons (6,057 liters) of Lake Tahoe water onto the flames, crews have successfully carved a perimeter around much of the wildfire. Read: Lake Tahoe evacuees hope to return home as wildfire slows Fire officials said they expected crews in hot spots to continue to confront challenging conditions, but hoped to make enough progress to lift evacuation orders still in place in the coming days. But much will depend on the weather, particularly the nature of wind and rain that thunderstorms expected next weekend may yield. Winds have been easing, allowing firefighters to make progress containing the conflagration, but authorities remain concerned about southwest winds sparking spot fires. In Northern California, the weather is expected to cool slightly and the humidity to rise starting on Tuesday. “We are drier than I have seen on my 20 days on this fire,” Jim Dudley, incident meteorologist, said Monday. “There’s a lot of potential weather-wise for little things to become maybe not so little.” California and much of the U.S. West have experienced dozens of wildfires in the past two months as the warming, drought-stricken region swelters under dry heat and winds drives flames through vegetation. More than 14,500 firefighters were battling 14 active fires in the state on Monday, and since the year began more than 7,000 wildfires have devoured 3,000 square miles (8,000 square kilometers). Read:High winds threaten to whip up flames approaching Lake Tahoe No deaths have been reported specifically from the fires, which have shut down all national forests in the state. Further south, the National Weather Service in Oxnard, California said hot dry weather was expected for interior valleys and deserts with elevated fire conditions through Friday.
A day after an explosive wildfire emptied a resort city at the southern tip of Lake Tahoe, a huge firefighting force braced for strong winds Tuesday as some residents in neighboring Nevada were ordered to evacuate. The city of South Lake Tahoe, usually bustling with summer tourists, was eerily empty and the air thick and hazy with smoke from the Caldor Fire, one of two major fires burning in the same area. On Monday, roughly 22,000 residents jammed the city’s main artery for hours after they were ordered to leave as the fire advanced, chewing up drought-stricken vegetation. The National Weather Service warned that weather conditions through Wednesday would include low humidity, dry fuel and wind gusts up to 30 mph (48 kph). “That’s definitely not going to help the firefighting efforts,” said Courtney Coats, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service. The fire was 3 miles (5 kilometers) outside of South Lake Tahoe, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion Chief Henry Herrera told KGO-TV. Read: Wildfire evacuees flood Lake Tahoe roads in rush to flee South Lake Tahoe city officials said only a handful of residents defied Monday’s evacuation order. But nearly everyone worried Tuesday about what the fire would do next. “It just kind of sucks waiting. I mean, I know it’s close down that way,” said Russ Crupi, gesturing south from his home in the Heavenly Valley Estates mobile home park, which he and his wife manage for a living. He had arranged sprinklers and tractors around the neighborhood. “I’m worried about what’ll be here when people come back. People want to come back to their houses and that’s what I’m going to try to do,” he said. Pushed by strong winds, the Caldor Fire crossed two major highways and burned mountain cabins as it swept down slopes into the Tahoe Basin. Thick smoke prevented air firefighting operations periodically last week. But since then, nearly two dozen helicopters and three air tankers dumped thousands of gallons of water and retardant on the fire, fire spokesman Dominic Polito said Tuesday. The Lake Tahoe area is usually a year-round recreational paradise offering beaches, water sports, hiking, ski resorts and golfing. South Lake Tahoe bustles with outdoor activities while just across the state border in Stateline, Nevada tourists can gamble at major casinos. But on Tuesday, only a few dozen tourists remained on the casino floor of the Montbleu Resort, Casino and Spa. The state board that controls gaming said that casino regulators were monitoring operations at the four largest gambling properties in the city. Hotels are housing evacuees, fire crews and other emergency personnel. In all, Harrah’s, Harveys Lake Tahoe Casino, the Hard Rock and Montbleu Resort have more than 2,200 hotel rooms. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak urged residents to be prepared, saying there was no timeline for when evacuations might be ordered. At a news conference in Carson City, he noted that ash was falling on him even though the fire was about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away. “I’m standing here and I’m getting all ash particulates on my jacket, even,” the governor said. “This is serious, folks.” Hours later, residents in parts of Douglas County under an evacuation warning were ordered to leave, although casinos were excluded. Read: Crews struggle to stop fire bearing down on Lake Tahoe At the Douglas County Community & Senior Center in Gardnerville, people had their temperature checked before entering a gymnasium of cots set up by the Red Cross. Outside, evacuees who had stayed in tents sorted through ramen noodles and plastic bags of clothes and keepsakes. South Lake Tahoe resident Lorie Major was at the grocery store when she got the alert on her phone. “I had to tell myself: ’OK, Lorie: Get it together. It’s time to go,’” she said. She put on headphones, turned on the Grateful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain” and walked home to an empty apartment complex already vacated by neighbors. She and her mini Australian shepherd, Koda, took a 20-mile (32-kilometer) taxi ride from her South Lake Tahoe apartment to a hotel in Minden, Nevada. A firefighter injured while battling the Caldor Fire last weekend was expected to be hospitalized for a month after undergoing skin grafting surgery. Richard Gerety III of Patterson, California suffered third-degree burns over 20% of his body, the Modesto Bee reported. Despite the very active fire year, there have not been many injuries or deaths among firefighters or residents. More than 15,000 firefighters were battling dozens of California blazes, with help from out of state crews. Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive, scientists say. The threat of fire is so widespread that the U.S. Forest Service announced Monday that all national forests in California would be closed until Sept. 17. Crews are battling the Dixie, the second-largest wildfire in state history at 1,260 square miles (3,267 square kilometers). The weeks-old fire was burning about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of the Lake Tahoe-area blaze and prompting new evacuation orders and warnings this week. The Caldor Fire has scorched nearly 300 square miles (777 square kilometers) since breaking out Aug. 14. After the weekend’s fierce burning, containment dropped from 19% to 16%. More than 600 structures have been destroyed, and at least 33,000 more were threatened. Read: Pristine Lake Tahoe shrouded in smoke from threatening fire The last two wildfires that ripped through populated areas near Tahoe were the Angora Fire that destroyed more than 200 homes in 2007 and the Gondola Fire in 2002 that ignited near a chairlift at Heavenly Mountain Resort. At the evacuation center in Gardnerville, Joe Gillespie said he, his girlfriend and her son left their home in Meyers south of South Lake Tahoe on Sunday, bringing clothes, picture frames and collectibles like Hot Wheels toys from the 1960s that Gillespie’s mother gave him. Gillespie, a mechanic at Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, said that unlike the northern shore of Lake Tahoe, which is dotted with mansions and second homes, the area currently under threat houses blue-collar workers who make their living at the casinos and ski resorts that make the area so popular. The Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort is beloved for its unpretentious and comparatively affordable winter prices. It turns 75 this year, he said. “It sounds like we won’t be opening because of the fire,” he said.
Fire officials ordered more evacuations around the Tahoe Basin Sunday evening as crews dealt with a two-week old blaze they said was “more aggressive than anticipated,” and continued to edge toward the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe. “Today’s been a rough day and there’s no bones about it,” said Jeff Marsoleis, forest supervisor for El Dorado National Forest. A few days ago, he thought crews could halt the Caldor Fire’s eastern progress, but “today it let loose.” Flames churned through mountains just a few miles southwest of the Tahoe Basin, where thick smoke sent tourists packing at a time when summer vacations would usually be in full swing ahead of the Labor Day weekend. Read: Crews struggle to stop fire bearing down on Lake Tahoe “To put it in perspective, we’ve been seeing about a half-mile of movement on the fire’s perimeter each day for the last couple of weeks, and today, this has already moved at 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) on us, with no sign that it’s starting to slow down,” said Cal Fire Division Chief Eric Schwab. Some areas of the Northern California terrain are so rugged that crews had to carry fire hoses by hand from Highway 50 as they sought to douse spot fires caused by erratic winds. The forecast did not offer optimism: triple-digit temperatures were possible and the extreme heat was expected to last several days. A red flag warning for critical fire conditions was issued for Monday and Tuesday across the Northern Sierra. The blaze that broke out August 14 was 19% contained after burning nearly 245 square miles (635 square kilometers) — an area larger than Chicago. More than 600 structures have been destroyed and at least 18,000 more were under threat. The Caldor Fire has proved so difficult to fight that fire managers pushed back the projected date for full containment from early this week to Sept. 8. But even that estimate was tenuous. Read: Pristine Lake Tahoe shrouded in smoke from threatening fire In Southern California, a section Interstate 15 was closed Sunday afternoon after winds pushed a new blaze, dubbed the Railroad Fire, across lanes in the Cajon Pass northeast of Los Angeles. Further south, evacuation orders and warnings were still in place for remote communities after a wildfire broke out and spread quickly through the Cleveland National Forest on Saturday. A firefighter received minor injuries and two structures were destroyed in the 2.3-square-mile (5.9-square-kilometer) Chaparral Fire burning along the border of San Diego and Riverside counties, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It was 10% contained Sunday. Meanwhile, California’s Dixie Fire, the second-largest in state history at 1,193 square miles (3,089 square kilometers) was 48% contained in the Sierra-Cascades region about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of the Caldor Fire. Nearly 700 homes were among almost 1,300 buildings that have been destroyed since the fire began in early July. Containment increased to 22% on the 12-day-old French Fire, which covered more than 38 square miles (98 square kilometers) in the southern Sierra Nevada. Crews protected forest homes on the west side of Lake Isabella, a popular recreation area northeast of Bakersfield. Read: Tourist helicopter crashes in Russian crater lake; 8 missing More than a dozen large fires are being fought by more than 15,200 firefighters across California. Flames have destroyed around 2,000 structures and forced thousands to evacuate this year while blanketing large swaths of the West in unhealthy smoke. The California fires are among nearly 90 large blazes in the U.S. Many are in the West, burning trees and brush desiccated by drought. Climate change has made the region warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more destructive, according to scientists. The Department of Defense is sending 200 U.S. Army soldiers from Washington state and equipment including eight U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft to help firefighters in Northern California, the U.S. Army North said in a statement Saturday. The C-130s have been converted to air tankers that can dump thousands of gallons of water on the flames.
Seven people including three women and a child sustained burn injuries when a fire broke out at a building in the city’s Pallabi area on Wednesday night. The injured were identified as Roushanara Begum, 70, Rina Begum, 50, Shafiqul Islam, 35, son of Rina, Sumon, 40, a gas stove worker, Renu Begum, 35, Nazneen, 25 and her daughter Noushin, 5. Read:College girl suffers burns as stalker sets her on fire in Manikganj Inspector Bachchu Mia, in-charge of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital police camp, said the fire broke out on the ground floor of the six-storey building of Rafiqul Islam when worker Sumon was repairing a gas pipeline around 11:15 pm, leaving seven people injured. Later, they were taken to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital. Read:Fire breaks out at Banani building; 2 girls dead Rafiqul Islam, said, “We called a local gas stove worker as the gas flow in our building is low. The fire broke out suddenly when the worker lit fire to check gas flow.”
A wildfire that burned several homes near Los Angeles may signal that the region is facing the same dangers that have scorched Northern California. The fire in San Bernardino County erupted Wednesday afternoon, quickly burned several hundred acres and damaged or destroyed at least a dozen homes and outbuildings in the foothills northeast of LA, fire officials said. Crews used shovels and bulldozers and mounted an air attack to keep the South Fire from the tiny communities of Lytle Creek and Scotland near the Cajon Pass. Some 600 homes and other buildings were threatened along with power transmission lines, and 1,000 residents were under evacuation orders. Read:Crews struggle to stop fire bearing down on Lake Tahoe By nightfall, firefighters appeared to have gained the upper hand and few flames were to be seen. But the blaze was worrying because Southern California’s high fire season is typically later in the year when strong, dry Santa Ana winds blast out of the interior and flow toward the coast. After a few cooler days, the southern region was expected to see a return of hot weather heading into the weekend. In addition to dangerously dry conditions, the region is faced with firefighting staffing that is increasingly stretched thin, said Lyn Sieliet, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino National Forest. “Some of our firefighters that we normally have on our forests are working on fires in Northern California, or Idaho and Washington,” she told KTLA-TV. “We don’t have the full staff that we normally do.” The largest fires in the state and in the nation were in Northern California, where they have burned down small mountain towns and destroyed huge swaths of tinder-dry forest. The Caldor Fire destroyed some 500 homes since Aug. 14 in the Sierra Nevada southwest of Lake Tahoe, including much of the tiny hamlet of Grizzly Flats. It was 12% contained and threatened more than 17,000 structures. Buck Minitch, a firefighter with the Pioneer Fire Protection District, was called to the fire lines last week while his wife fled their Grizzly Flats home with their two daughters, three dogs, a kitten and duffel bag of clothes, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Read:Pristine Lake Tahoe shrouded in smoke from threatening fire Hannah Minitch evacuated to her parents’ property and the next morning received a text from her husband showing only a chimney where their house once stood. The two briefly wept together during a telephone call before he got back to work. “‘We’ve got nothing left here,’” she recalled him saying. “‘I’ve got to go protect what’s left for other people.’” At times the wind-driven fire was burning 1,000 acres of land per hour and on Wednesday it was less than two dozen miles from Lake Tahoe, an alpine vacation and tourist spot that straddles the California-Nevada state line. There weren’t any evacuations in Tahoe but the fire continued to cast a sickly yellow pall of smoke over the scenic region. South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City on the west shore had the nation’s worst air pollution at midmorning Wednesday, according to AirNow, a partnership of federal, state and local air agencies. Meanwhile, California’s Dixie Fire, the second-largest in state history at 1,160 square miles (3,004 square kilometers), was burning only about 65 miles (104 kilometers) to the north. It was 45% contained. Some 700 homes were among nearly 1,300 buildings that have been destroyed. In the southern Sierra Nevada, there was growing concern as the French Fire expanded near Lake Isabella, a popular fishing and boating destination. About 10 communities were under evacuation orders. The fire has blackened 32 square miles (83 square kilometers) since Aug. 18. Read: Winds threaten to fan destructive California wildfire Smoke from the fires had fouled air farther south. The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued an advisory through Thursday morning for large portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Nationally, 92 large fires were burning in 13 mainly Western states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Climate change has made the West warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more destructive, according to scientists.
A Northern California fire that gutted hundreds of homes advanced toward Lake Tahoe on Wednesday as thousands of firefighters tried to box in the flames, and a thick yellow haze of the nation’s worst air enveloped tourists. In Southern California, at least a dozen homes and outbuildings were damaged or destroyed after a fire broke out Wednesday afternoon and quickly ran through tinder-dry brush in mountains northeast of Los Angeles. Evacuations were ordered for about 1,000 people. Crews mounted an air attack to keep the South Fire from the tiny communities of Lytle Creek and Scotland near the Cajon Pass in San Bernardino County. By nightfall, the fire appeared to be mostly contained. To the north, a new fire erupted in the Sierra Nevada foothills and quickly burned at least 1,000 acres of land near New Melones Lake in Calaveras County, prompting evacuations. Read: Pristine Lake Tahoe shrouded in smoke from threatening fire Meanwhile, the Caldor Fire spread to within 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Lake Tahoe, eating its way through rugged timberlands and “knocking on the door” of the basin that straddles the California-Nevada state line, California’s state fire chief Thom Porter warned this week. Ash rained down and tourists ducked into cafes, outdoor gear shops and casinos on Lake Tahoe Boulevard for a respite from the unhealthy air. South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City on the west shore had the nation’s worst air pollution at midmorning Wednesday, reaching 334, in the “hazardous” category of the 0-500 Air Quality Index, according to AirNow, a partnership of federal, state and local air agencies. South of Tahoe, Rick Nelson and his wife, Diane, had planned to host a weekend wedding at Fallen Leaf Lake, where his daughter and her fiance had met. However, the smoke caused most of the community to leave. The sun was an eerie blood orange, and the floats and boats in the lake were obscured by haze Tuesday. In the end, the Nelsons spent two days arranging to have the wedding moved from the glacial lake several hours southwest to the San Francisco Bay Area. “Everybody’s trying to make accommodations for the smoke. And I think it’s becoming a reality for us, unfortunately,” Diane Nelson said. “I just think that the smoke and the fires have gotten bigger, hotter and faster-moving.” Climate change has made the West warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more destructive, according to scientists. Although there were no evacuations ordered for Lake Tahoe, it was impossible to ignore a blanket of haze so thick and vast that it closed schools for two days in Reno, Nevada, which is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the fire. Read: Winds threaten to fan destructive California wildfire The school district that includes Reno reopened most schools on Wednesday, citing improved air quality conditions. However, the Washoe County School District’s schools in Incline Village on the north shore of Lake Tahoe remained closed, the district said in a statement. The Caldor fire has scorched more than 197 square miles (510 square kilometers) and destroyed at least 461 homes since Aug. 14 in the Sierra Nevada southwest of the lake. It was 11% contained and threatened more than 17,000 structures. The western side of the blaze continued to threaten more than a dozen small communities and wineries. On the fire’s eastern side, crews bulldozed fire lines, opened up narrow logging roads and cleared ridgetops in hopes of stopping its advance, fire officials said. More than 2,500 firefighters were on the line and more resources were streaming in, including big firefighting aircraft, fire officials said. Meanwhile, California’s Dixie Fire, the second-largest in state history at 1,148 square miles (2,973 square kilometers), was burning only about 65 miles (104 kilometers) to the north. New evacuations were ordered after winds pushed the blaze to the northeast on Wednesday, as flames crossed State Route 44 and headed toward campgrounds near Eagle Lake. The Dixie Fire, which broke out July 13, was 43% contained. At least 682 homes were among more than 1,270 buildings that have been destroyed. In the southern Sierra Nevada, there was growing concern after the French Fire expanded near Lake Isabella, a popular fishing and boating destination. “The fire really made a big push and put up a huge column of smoke,” fire spokesman Alex Olow said Wednesday. Because flames were still active, assessment teams have been unable to get into neighborhoods to see if any homes were damaged, he said. Read: California wildfires destroy homes; winds hamper containment About 10 communities were under evacuation orders. The fire has blackened 32 square miles (83 square kilometers) since Aug. 18. Nationally, 92 large fires were burning in a dozen mainly Western states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Northern California has experienced a series of disastrous blazes that have burned hundreds of homes, and many remain uncontained. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden declared that a major disaster exists in California and ordered federal aid made available to local governments, agencies and fire victims in four northern counties ravaged by blazes dating back to July 14.