Wildfire in Northern California triples in size; utility cuts power to 51,000

Wildfire in Northern California triples in size; utility cuts power to 51,000
A firefighting plane drops retardant along the fire line over Grizzly Flats, Calif., on Tuesday as the Caldor Fire burns below. Photo by Peter DaSilva/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The Caldor Fire in Northern California has exploded in size, led to hundreds of thousands of evacuations and prompted the state's largest utility to begin shutting off power to tens of thousands of customers, officials said Wednesday.

The blaze, burning near Sacramento in El Dorado County, more than tripled in size over the course of Tuesday and is now the second-largest wildfire burning in the state, officials said.


The fire had burned less than 7,000 acres earlier on Tuesday. By the end of the day, the blaze had grown to more than 30,000 acres, according to Cal Fire.

The wildfire is zero percent contained, but authorities said they hope to get it fully contained by Saturday.

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Officials ordered almost 200,000 residents in El Dorado County to evacuate as the fire, which started last weekend, grew in size.

On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the county after the blaze engulfed the community of Grizzly Flats, located about 65 miles east of Sacramento. The fire burned about 50 homes in that area and at least two people were injured.


"Please be aware that this is a dynamic and rapidly developing incident," Cal Fire said in a statement. "It is imperative for those within areas under an evacuation order or warning to follow the direction immediately."

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Pacific Gas & Electric has shut off power to about 51,000 customers in 18 northern counties to prevent winds from knocking over power lines and setting new fires. The utility said the shutoffs could last through Wednesday.

The Caldor Fire is one of several burning in California and the Western United States.

The Dixie Fire, California's largest, continues to burn and has so far destroyed more than 1,100 buildings and 625 homes over the past month. Officials said it is threatening more than 14,000 others.

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Fire authorities warned that the Dixie Fire may not be contained until October, due partly to weather conditions that have allowed it to survive and spread.

There are presently more than 100 large fires burning around the United States, mainly in the West -- where drought conditions and red flag warnings continue to fuel the flames, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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