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US: Caldor Fire: Firefighters battle wildfires, fatigue and Covid-19 as California braces for an extended fire season

Caldor Fire: California and Nevada declare states of emergency and more than 50,000 residents are told to evacuate Lake Tahoe area

  Caldor Fire: California and Nevada declare states of emergency and more than 50,000 residents are told to evacuate Lake Tahoe area The governors of California and Nevada declared states of emergency Monday as the fast-moving Caldor Fire prompted officials to tell everyone in the city of South Lake Tahoe to get out. © Noah Berger/AP With the Caldor Fire approaching, Jim Mrazek stands outside his vehicle on Highway 50 as evacuee traffic stands still in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. Mrazek, who was stopped in that spot for more than an hour, said he was considering taking his boat into the lake instead of trying to drive out. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) In California, Gov.

Firefighters battling a devastating wildfire season in California are exhausted as they face the state's massive Caldor Fire that has been threatening a popular tourist city for days -- and the likelihood of more fires in the weeks ahead.

a couple of people that are standing in the dark: Firefighters are lit by a backfire set to prevent the Caldor Fire from spreading near South Lake Tahoe , Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. © Jae C. Hong/AP Firefighters are lit by a backfire set to prevent the Caldor Fire from spreading near South Lake Tahoe , Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. a group of people standing around a fire: Firefighters try to control a back fire to help battle the Caldor Fire near Lake Tahoe on September 2, 2021. © Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock Firefighters try to control a back fire to help battle the Caldor Fire near Lake Tahoe on September 2, 2021.

"Firefighters are getting tired, they're getting drained," Cal Fire spokesman Dave Lauchner told CNN.

As fire nears, some Lake Tahoe residents buck order to flee

  As fire nears, some Lake Tahoe residents buck order to flee While most of his neighbors fled South Lake Tahoe as a major wildfire charged closer to town, Tod Johnson stayed put. © Provided by Associated Press Tod Johnson stands in front of his house in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, a day after the city was ordered to evacuate because of the fast-growing Caldor Fire. He spray-painted his house, which is not insured, hoping that firefighters would help save it if the fire reaches his neighborhood.

The severe drought suffocating parts of the American West is not only leading to water and food production shortages, but it is also creating the ideal environment for more wildfires to spark rapidly, scientists and climate experts say.

"Above normal significant fire potential is forecast to continue through September for much of the Northwest, Northern Rockies, and northern portions of the Great Basin and Rocky Mountain Geographic Areas," the National Interagency Fire Center wrote in an outlook report last month.

a close up of a fire: A firefighter lights a backfire to stop the Caldor Fire from spreading near South Lake Tahoe on September 1, 2021. © Jae C. Hong/AP A firefighter lights a backfire to stop the Caldor Fire from spreading near South Lake Tahoe on September 1, 2021.

And in some places, those conditions can extend even longer.

"Most mountains and foothills in California are forecast to have above normal potential through September with areas prone to offshore winds likely to retain above normal potential into October and November in southern California," the fire center said.

'We’re still not out of the woods': Improved weather conditions could aid crews fighting to save Lake Tahoe from Caldor Fire

  'We’re still not out of the woods': Improved weather conditions could aid crews fighting to save Lake Tahoe from Caldor Fire Fire crews await improved weather conditions that will allow them to control the Caldor Fire, the massive wildfire threatening majestic Lake Tahoe.The Caldor Fire has continued to spread east but fire crews have been able to corral the blaze just south of Lake Tahoe, known for its picturesque beaches, emerald-blue waters, rocky shorelines and stunning landscapes in the Sierra Nevada. As of Wednesday evening, the blaze had spread through nearly 324 square miles and was only 23% contained, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

California's fire season this year has been unrelenting, torching more than three times the land burned in the state during the same time span last year, officials said.

As of Thursday, more than 15,000 firefighters were on the frontlines of California's 16 active large wildfires, Cal Fire said. And nearly 2 million acres have been scorched across the state.

"We've been battling fires for months now. We've had the Dixie fire, which is over 800,000 acres, and then this fire, this fire has been going on for almost three weeks now," Cal Fire's Lauchner said, referring to the Caldor Fire.

The struggle against wildfires has been waged across the West. At times, the global Covid-19 pandemic has made it even more challenging.

In July, seven firefighters battling the Bootleg fire in Oregon had to quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus.

And this week, between 16 and 20 firefighters working on the Caldor Fire were sidelined due to possible exposure, Cal Fire's Kevin Brown told CNN's Stephanie Elam.

Lyft Charges $1500 for Drive from Lake Tahoe Resort to Airport Amid Caldor Fire Evacuation

  Lyft Charges $1500 for Drive from Lake Tahoe Resort to Airport Amid Caldor Fire Evacuation A hotel and casino in Nevada outside the evacuation area also offered two-night stays for $1,090.72, nearly four times the rate offered the day before.A 60-mile (96-kilometer) Lyft XL ride from the resort town to Reno normally costs roughly $200. A furious resident shared a screenshot of the rates on Twitter, showing $1,535 for a minivan or SUV for a minimum of five passengers. SFGate reported the costs had dropped back to $230 midday.

There is no question that climate change has made deadlier and more destructive wildfires the new normal. With about 90% of the West region currently in some form of drought, more than half are experiencing extreme or exceptional -- the most severe categories, according to the US Drought Monitor.

The culprit?

Multiple studies have linked rising carbon dioxide emissions and high temperatures to increased acreage of burning across the West, particularly in California.

And as fire conditions intensify, the ongoing drought in California continues to strain the state's water resources. The levels of California's two largest reservoirs -- Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville -- are currently at 43% and 34% of their historical averages, respectively, the drought monitor said.

Caldor Fire threatens resort city

The Caldor Fire that marched into the Lake Tahoe Basin this week has swelled to 212,907 acres and was 29% contained Friday. The massive blaze saw reduced activity due to calmer winds in the area, Cal Fire said.

The fire, which is one of the few wildfires to cross from one side of the vast Sierra Nevada Mountain range to the other, has forced some 20,000 residents in the resort city of South Lake Tahoe to flee. It's been burning for nearly three weeks as it marches toward Nevada's border.

Red Sox place right-hander Nick Pivetta on COVID-19 IL as outbreak worsens

  Red Sox place right-hander Nick Pivetta on COVID-19 IL as outbreak worsens The Red Sox now have a combination of 12 players and coaches sidelined due to the coronavirus. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts; utility man Enrique Hernandez; second baseman Christian Arroyo; infielder Yairo Munoz; and pitchers Matt Barnes, Hirokazu Sawamura and Martin Perez tested positive for COVID-19, while left-hander Josh Taylor and first-base coach Tom Goodwin are in quarantine as close contacts. Quality control coach Ramon Vazquez has also tested positive for the virus.

"Extremely dry air will remain over the area for the next couple of days and also heat will be building in the area throughout the weekend into Labor Day," CNN weather producer Robert Shackelford said. "Winds will not be as significant as past events, with some gusts being as high as 15 mph. But even a gust like this can help fires to spread."

South Lake Tahoe, normally bustling with vacationers, was a gray ghost town Tuesday, with empty parking lots, closed roads and shuttered businesses as the fire's thick smoke hovered over the area.

Evacuated residents should expect to stay out of their homes for the next couple of days," said Cal Fire's Brown. Even where there is no immediate threat, it takes time to inspect roadways, clear tree hazards and get utilities back up and running, Brown said Thursday.

Overall, about 53,000 people have been placed under evacuation orders in the state, according to the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services. Some evacuation orders have been downgraded to warnings.

The White House on Wednesday approved California Gov. Gavin Newsom's request for a presidential emergency declaration to receive direct federal aid for the Caldor Fire.

"The Department of Defense has trained and is deploying additional firefighters to support our ongoing firefighting efforts in California," President Joe Biden said Thursday.

Union urges NFL to adopt daily COVID-19 testing for vaccinated players .
There’s a decent chance that the COVID-19 pandemic will play more of a role during the 2021 NFL season than last year. We’re seeing relaxed protocols from the league as it relates to fully vaccinated players with Week 1 of the campaign slated to get going Thursday evening. It has already led to some COVID-related issues for teams. That includes star guard Zack Martin and the Dallas Cowboys with their opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers mere days away. Despite being fully vaccinated, Martin tested positive for the virus and will miss the game.NFLPA president JC Tretter of the Cleveland Browns touched on this recently.

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