Fire crews reported progress Wednesday in an effort to save neighborhoods from a massive forest fire near Lake Tahoe in the western U.S. state of Nevada.
Firefighters “lucked out” when winds did not strengthen as much as expected early Wednesday, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Section Chief Tim Ernst told reporters.
Ernst said progress was made creating fire lines with bulldozers as the fire’s movement slowed during its approach to Lake Tahoe, known for its ski resorts and beaches.
Weather forecasters cautioned, however, that crews would still have to grapple with gusty winds throughout Wednesday.
The fire reached the southern tip of Lake Tahoe Wednesday after evacuation orders in neighboring California were expanded to Nevada, forcing crews to scramble to prevent it from reaching the resort city of South Lake Tahoe.
Heavy smoke from what is called the Caldor Fire has blanketed the resort city, leaving it largely empty during what is normally a bustling tourist season.
The Caldor Fire has burned nearly 808 square kilometers and has been nearly 20% contained since erupting on August 14. The blaze has destroyed more than 600 structures and threatens at least 33,000 others.
Thousands of firefighters have been battling dozens of fires in California, which, along with other western U.S. states, have become much drier and warmer over recent decades due to climate change.
Scientists say those weather conditions will continue make wildfires and extreme weather more frequent.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press.