“This season is far from over,” Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter cautioned. “We are on par with where we were last year. That’s sobering and that is the new reality.”
Porter added that forecasters are predicting the weather will continue to create the ideal environment for wildfires to ignite and expand, fueled by dry and windy conditions.
“Nobody has a crystal ball with what’s going to happen in the weather and fire activity going forward,” Porter said. “For September through December the entire state shows drier, more wind events, and large fire activity to continue.”
“Adverse wind conditions in the Kirkwood Area along Highway 88 challenged firefighters as spotting continues to occur within interior islands,” fire officials said in an update Tuesday.
The fire has scorched more than 217,000 acres and containment reached 50% Tuesday as firefighters continue to tame the grueling blaze that sparked August 14. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
To be sure, firefighters made substantial headway against the Caldor Fire over the weekend, which allowed for some evacuation orders in the Lake Tahoe region to be downgraded to warnings.
Parts of El Dorado County, where the fire is raging, also saw evacuation orders downgraded to warnings Saturday, and warnings in other areas were lifted altogether, Cal Fire said.
Still, officials are urging people in the Lake Tahoe region to stay ready to evacuate in the event circumstances become threatening again.
“We are not completely out of the woods yet,” warned Mark Ghilarducci, who heads the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
As significant progress is made, US Forest Service Supervisor Tony Scardino said he expects to see plenty more growth in both the Caldor and Dixie Fires.
Californians asked to conserve energy ahead of blistering temperatures
As Western states grapple with drought conditions, temperatures are expected to spike Wednesday.
In Death Valley National Park, temperatures could reach up to 122 degrees, the NWS said, adding that cities including Lake Havasu and Needles are expected to reach up to 113 degrees while Las Vegas and Barstow will likely reach 110 degrees.
“Extreme heat will significantly increase the potential for heat-related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities,” the NWS wrote in its warning.
Meanwhile, officials asked Californians Tuesday to conserve electricity because of the anticipated searing temperatures.
The California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the operator of the state’s largest power grid, issued a statewide Flex Alert, urging people to cut back their electricity use from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday to prevent rotating power outages during excessive heat.
“Conserving electricity during the late afternoon and early evening is crucial because that is when the grid is most stressed due to higher demand and declining solar energy production,” CAISO said in a statement.
During the alert time period, residents are asked to adjust their thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, if health permits, to help maintain the state’s power grid stability. Residents are also urged to pre-cool their homes and avoid using unnecessary lights or major appliances.
CNN’s Cheri Mossburg, Alexandra Meeks, Kelly McCleary and Alta Spells contributed to this report.