Roundup: California's Caldor Fire expands rapidly with small containment, tens of thousands evacuated

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DENVER, the United States, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Highways on the border between the U.S. states of Nevada and California remained gridlocked Tuesday, as more than 59,000 people had fled so far from the menacing Caldor Fire and other "wildfires burning across the state," according to the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

As of Tuesday, the fire remained at only 16 percent contained, had consumed 191,607 acres (775.4 square kilometers), and was being battled by 3,900 firefighters and personnel, according to InciWeb, the National Interagency Fire Center.

South Lake Tahoe's population of 21,939 was given mandatory evacuation orders Monday as governors of both California and Nevada declared a "State of Emergency" to ensure federal funds would be available for containment efforts, local media reported.

South Lake Tahoe is a major city in Northern California. The east end of the city is on the California-Nevada state line right next to the town of Stateline, Nevada.

Local law-enforcement officials told residents of South Lake Tahoe to "please remain calm," as neighborhood by neighborhood emptied and fled the menacing inferno, that had destroyed 486 homes and 11 commercial properties and was threatening 33,000 more, CalFire said.

However, since so many evacuees flood out of region, the San Francisco-based ride-hailing app Lyft was accused Tuesday morning of price gouging.

A Lyft from the popular Heavenly Valley Lodge to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport showed a fare price between 1,300 U.S. dollars to 1,500 U.S. dollars Tuesday morning for a minivan or SUV with capacity to sit at least five other passengers.

Typically, that ride is estimated to cost up to 200 U.S. dollars for this type of vehicle, according to Lyft's own estimate prices. Meanwhile, Uber still would cost about a couple hundred dollars for the trip, according to the app, but nobody provided the service.

An Uber spokesperson was quoted by the SF Gate news website as saying that service was still available, but that no drivers are available likely because "drivers are choosing not to drive on the platform, perhaps due to safety reasons or they may be part of the expanded wildfire evacuation order themselves."

A woman who said she has lived in the city for 12 years spoke with local KCRA 3 news channel while she was waiting in the heavy traffic of people trying to evacuate, noting "They should have planned this a little better."

Another resident told KCRA 3 that he was among the thousands stuck in gridlocked traffic, slowly making progress in leaving Monday, saying "Now we're just waiting all to get out ... but what can you do? Feels like an hour and I maybe made it 5 inches."

Nevada's capital of Carson City, located a scant 20 miles (32.2 kilometers) to the east, according to, was on alert Tuesday, with vast areas of parched wilderness lying between the state capital and the blaze.

The Caldor Fire was ignited Aug. 14 near Little Mountain, California and the cause is currently under investigation, InciWeb said.

On Monday night, fire crews did "an excellent job of structure protection over the night as the fire was very active in the wind gusts were sometimes at 30 mph (48.3 kph)," the Sacramento Fire Department told the media.

Prospects for quick containment were bleak as "ridgeline wind gusts up to 40 miles-per hour (64.4 kph)," and low humidity levels were expected to exacerbate conditions, InciWeb said Tuesday.

California has been hammered in 2021 with currently more than 20 large, active blazes, the Dixie Fire, one of the largest in state history, engulfing more than 771,000 acres (3,120.1 square kilometers), and the Caldor Fire expecting to top 200,000 acres (809.4 square kilometers) this week, according to InciWeb.

South Lake Tahoe is a resort city on the southern edge of storied Lake Tahoe, known for its nearby ski resorts and summer beaches.

Lake Tahoe is a massive 122,616-acre (496.2 square kilometers) natural lake, the sixteenth deepest lake in the world and the largest alpine lake in North America, according to the Lake Tahoe Visitor's Authority, and trails only the five Great Lakes in volume. Enditem

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