Roseville firefighter Kirk Steven sprays down a tree as he allows fuel to be burned off next to a cabin during the Caldor Fire near Meyers, Calif., on Tuesday. Photo by Peter DaSilva/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Firefighters say they're getting better control of the wildfire in Northern California that's so far blackened more than 200,000 acres and forced evacuations near Lake Tahoe.
Authorities say crews have the Caldor Fire almost 50% contained, thanks to improved capabilities and helpful weather conditions.
The fire, which started in the Grizzly Flats community on Aug. 14, has burned close to 220,000 acres.
"Firefighters continued their hard work throughout the entire East Zone as they performed aggressive direct fire attack and mop up," Cal Fire said in a statement on Monday.
"Super scoopers, aerial firefighting planes capable of scooping water from lakes without landing, were also utilized today to assist the crews' efforts on the ground in the wilderness."
Cal Fire said containment lines were improved and a concerted effort has been made to remove hazardous debris so that residents can return home.
Many evacuated residents started returning home on Monday, but faced a new threat -- bears. Officials said more than a dozen of the animals ransacked homes while the owners were away, looking for food.
Tim Ernest, Cal Fire's western operations chief, said the Caldor Fire is still quite dangerous.
"Although we didn't have any major runs through the entire day [Sunday], there was a slight uptick in fire behavior," Ernest told KPIX-TV. "It's a trend we need to watch over the next few days."
Officials said residents in Sonoma County should remain vigilant after more than a dozen fires started there late Monday. Firefighters were able to slow most of the forward progress on many of those fires.