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South Lake Tahoe (United States) (AFP) – Thousands of people were ordered to evacuate on Monday the south shore of Lake Tahoe, in California, a tourist area threatened by a fire that has devastated the region for more than two weeks.

Called Caldor Fire, the forest fire has already covered more than 700 km2, destroying several hundred buildings and emitting thick smoke that pollutes northern California.

Thanks to sustained winds and extreme drought, the flames continued to progress on Monday towards South Lake Tahoe, a tourist town on the shores of North America’s largest alpine lake, on the border with Nevada.

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

The Caldor Fire is just one of dozens of blazes ravaging the chronic drought-stricken western United States further exacerbated by the effects of climate change. More than 7,000 km2 of vegetation have already burned, more than double the average at this time of year.

Tens of thousands of residents had to flee the flames, often without knowing when they could return or even if they would be returned to their homes intact.

“There was a knock on the door last night around 10 pm to warn me to be ready,” South Lake Tahoe resident Corinne Kobel told the Sacramento Bee newspaper. “And this morning at 10:00 am, it was the police who came to tell us to leave. I’m freaking out, ”she added.

An AFP reporter saw an endless line of vehicles attempting to exit South Lake Tahoe, idling, bumper to bumper.

Among these motorists was Mel Smothers, 74, who patiently took his troubles by playing the violin near his car. He has lived in Tahoe since the 1970s but had never been driven from his home by flames until now.

“With these recent fires, Lake Tahoe has changed. It’s going to be like that every year from now on, ”laments the septuagenarian interviewed by AFP.

On Sunday, the fire had swept through the slopes of Twin Bridges, where skiers usually indulge in the joys of winter sports. The snow cannons were used in an attempt to moisten the terrain and keep the flames at bay.

California Fire Chief Thom Porter said the blaze had grown nearly 80 square kilometers overnight as the cloud cover cleared. “When the air comes out, it removes the lid on your pot of boiling water,” which sounds like a draft, he told the Sacramento Bee.

Further north, the gigantic Dixie Fire continued to expand, having engulfed more than 3,000 km2 since its departure six weeks ago.

As of Monday morning, in California alone, more than 15,000 firefighters were battling about 15 large-scale wildfires on the ground.

Their number and intensity have multiplied in recent years in the western United States, with the fire season greatly lengthening.

According to experts, this phenomenon is particularly linked to global warming: the increase in temperature, the increase in heat waves and the drop in precipitation in places form an ideal incendiary cocktail.

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Ref: https://www.goodplanet.info