The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection was digging in and burning out fire lines amid another round of high winds that contributed to the fury of a Northern California wildfire. "We have a firefight ahead of us and the wind today is going to make it very challenging," said Keith Wade, Cal Fire's spokesperson said.
The Caldor Fire in the northern Sierra Nevada has already destroyed dozens of homes, and authorities on Friday closed down a 46-mile (74-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 50 that is the main route between the state capital of Sacramento and Lake Tahoe on the Nevada state line.
The highway was closed as the National Weather Service reported that 20- to 30-mph (32- to 48-kph) winds “combined with continued extremely dry fuels will result in critical fire weather conditions in the vicinity of the Caldor Fire.”
The winds could gust to 40 mph (65 kph) Saturday.
“We’re going to invest everything we can into holding the fire south" of the road, said Eric Schwab, an operations section chief with Cal Fire.
On the western side of the wildfire, firefighters starved it out of fuel by burning vegetation and halted it from heading into the evacuated community of Pollock Pines. On the northeast side, crews were protecting cabins in the dense forest area, fire officials said.
The Caldor Fire had now devoured about 130 square miles (310 square kilometers) as of Saturday and more than 1,500 firefighters were battling it amid heavy timber and rugged terrain.
As per an Associated Press report, as many as nine national forests were shut because of the fire threat.
To the northwest of the Caldor Fire, the massive Dixie Fire kept expanding and new evacuations were ordered. In five weeks, the fire has become the second-largest in state history. It has razed an area twice the size of Los Angeles.
California is one of a dozen mostly Western states where 99 large, active fires were burning as of Friday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.