As the Caldor fire, which has been raging in East-Central California since August 14, is nearing Lake Tahoe, the popular recreation area has been shrouded in smoke, while air quality in some parts of the basin has been declared "hazardous".
So far, no evacuation orders for the Lake Tahoe area have been given out. As the fire advanced in the last weeks, thousands of California residents have already been ordered to leave their homes. The blaze has so far damaged more than 460 residences.
Fire seasons do play out differently every year. Yet, a look at the five-year rolling averages of acres burned by wildfires in California shows that, despite a quiet 2019, the average area destroyed annually is growing. With an exceptionally destructive 2020, the figure will remain elevated for a while. As of August 23, 2021, more acres had already burned in California in the current fire season than by the same time in 2020, signalling that another bad year for wildfires in the state might happen.
California’s continuous battle with drought along with unusually high temperatures and dry vegetation has contributed to devasting and destructive fire seasons. The cost of mitigation has been rising quickly - from $61 million in the 1990s to more than $400 million in the 2010s.