Winds threaten to fuel Lake Tahoe blaze

·2-min read

A day after an explosive wildfire has emptied a US resort city at the southern tip of Lake Tahoe, a huge firefighting force braced for strong winds as residents in neighbouring Nevada were put on notice to be ready to flee.

The city of South Lake Tahoe, usually bustling with summer tourists, was eerily empty and the air hazy with smoke from the Caldor Fire, one of two major blazes plaguing California.

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.

Pushed by strong winds, the Caldor Fire crossed two major highways and burned mountain cabins as it swept down slopes into the Tahoe Basin.

More firefighters arrived just after dark on Monday, and many were dispatched to protect homes in the Christmas Valley area, about 16 kilometres from South Lake Tahoe.

The National Weather Service warned of critical fire weather conditions through Wednesday due to strong gusts, very low humidity and extremely dry fuel.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak urged residents to be prepared, saying there was no timeline for when evacuations might be ordered.

More than 15,000 firefighters are battling dozens of California blazes, with help from interstate crews.

Crews are also battling the Dixie, the second-largest wildfire in state history at 3267 square kilometres.

The weeks-old fire was burning about 105km north of the Lake Tahoe-area blaze and prompting new evacuation orders and warnings this week.

The Caldor Fire has scorched nearly 777 sq km since breaking out on August 14. After the weekend's fierce burning, containment dropped from 19 per cent to 16 per cent.

More than 600 structures have been destroyed, and at least 33,000 more were threatened.

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