The Caldor fire is menacing Lake Tahoe.

Firefighters hope an area they cleared about eight miles south of the lake’s shores will keep the flames from advancing much further.


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The Caldor fire is menacing Lake Tahoe.

The Caldor fire burning in Kirkwood, Calif., this week.Credit…Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Sept. 2, 2021, 9:32 a.m. ET

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — There were several flare-ups during a dynamic 24 hours along the far-flung fire lines of the Caldor fire. Giant funnels of smoke poured from forested hillsides. But despite the ominous scene, firefighters late Wednesday night said the flames were no closer to Lake Tahoe than the day before.

It was a bit of welcome news for residents who had evacuated the area as the Caldor fire pushed aggressively east toward the border of California and Nevada. It has burned more than 200,000 acres, destroying 780 structures and injuring five people.

Conditions were particularly challenging in the remote forests southeast of the lake, Beale Monday, a section chief with the U.S. Forest Service, said in a briefing.

“This is some very tough country, very steep, very rugged and it’s just not safe to try to put people right on the fire’s edge now,” he said.

Firefighters elsewhere in the state, northeast of Chico, have reached a milestone by containing more than half of the Dixie fire, which is nearing 850,000 acres burned and is the second-largest blaze in recorded state history.

After the Caldor fire descended the granite cliffs of the Tahoe basin on Monday, firefighters positioned themselves in the evacuated neighborhoods of Meyers and Christmas Valley directly south of Lake Tahoe. Night and day, fire crews are patrolling deserted streets to tamp out the spot fires caused by flying embers.

Firefighters are hoping an area they cleared along a creek about eight miles south of the lake’s shores will keep the flames from traveling toward South Lake Tahoe and ultimately the tens of thousands of businesses and residences that rim the lake.

The blaze, which is 23 percent contained, has eaten up hillsides across from the Kirkwood ski resort, a 40-minute drive southeast of the lake, and Mr. Monday said firefighters were battling spot fires and “squirrelly winds” in the Kirkwood area.

But so far, he added, the ski resort had been successfully protected.

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