The Caldor Fire in Northern California has expanded in size, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate and forcing the state’s major utility to turn off electricity 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.
Earlier in the day, the fire had scorched less than 7,000 acres. According to Cal Fire, the incident had spread to more than 30,000 acres by the end of the day.
The wildfire is 0 percent contained, but officials plan to have it totally contained by Saturday.
As the fire, which began last Saturday, increased in size, officials ordered nearly 200,000 residents in El Dorado County to evacuate.
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.”
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 dozens that are raging in California and the Western United States.
The Dixie Fire, California’s largest, is still burning and has burned over 1,100 buildings and 625 residences in the last month. According to officials, it poses a hazard to more than 14,000 people.
Because of the weather conditions that have allowed the Dixie Fire to persist and develop, fire officials have warned that it may not be extinguished until October.
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.