Thousands more evacuated as California wildfire swells 24 times its size in 2 days

The Caldor Fire burns through trees on Mormom Emigrant Trail east of Sly Park, California.
CNN  — 

The Caldor Fire burning in California has grown 24 times its size in two days, forcing another 10,000 residents to evacuate.

Fueled by wind and dry conditions, the fire burning in El Dorado County swelled to 62,586 acres Wednesday and is 0% contained, according to Cal Fire. The fire was sparked Saturday and the cause is unknown.

“The unfortunate thing is that these fires continue to get bigger,” Cal Fire Director Thom Porter said Wednesday at a news conference. “But we’re surging resources into communities to protect and reduce the impact.”

The fast-moving fire continued to burn through “several steep drainages with the aid of the large amounts of dry vegetation,” causing even more evacuations, Cal Fire said.

California’s weather has only been making matters worse for those fighting the fires, as well as the thousands who were directed to evacuate their homes.

The state’s large fires remained active Wednesday thanks to a front that pushed through the area, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said. Although temperatures will remain on the cooler side, the area is still extremely dry as drought conditions continue to grip the state.

“Any new fronts that push through will increase the winds on approach, which can be a huge problem for the firefighters,” Guy said. “I would say it is like waiting for a wreck to happen. … You see it happening or coming, and all you can do is wait for the catastrophe to occur with nothing you can do about it.”

The Caldor Fire burns through trees on Mormom Emigrant Trail east of Sly Park, California, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.

To protect people from that dire situation, the number of those evacuated in El Dorado County jumped to 16,380 Wednesday, up from about 6,850 the day prior, according to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

“Getting people out of the way of these fires is the best way for us to be able to protect your communities. We need you to evacuate,” Porter urged. “Please heed the warnings.”

Darby Flynn is one of thousands who was told to flee the flames, CNN affiliate KCRA reported.

She told the news outlet she’s “glad to be able to evacuate and not be caught in the fire.”

“I just kind of grabbed some things and some important artwork that my mom painted for me and something my aunt made for me and that was pretty much it,” she told KCRA. “Otherwise, I just try to remember that things are things and most of them you can replace.”

Meanwhile, two people were airlifted to hospitals after being seriously injured in the area, Cal Fire said. One person approached firefighters, who tried conducting first aid before the person was taken to a hospital. Another person suffered “severe” injuries.

Damage assessment has not yet begun as the fire remains dynamic and complex, officials said. So far, the fire has destroyed many structures and threatens roughly 6,000 others, Cal Fire officials said. The fire burned at least one elementary school in the Pioneer Union School District, one community church and one post office.

In Lake County, California, about 100 miles northwest of Sacramento, a new wildfire has destroyed a number of homes, officials said. The Cache Fire has burned about 80 acres and is 20% contained, according to Cal Fire.

“Looks like we got several dozen homes that have been lost here, one civilian injury reported so far,” Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin posted on Facebook on Wednesday. Evacuation orders had been issued for residents in the county.

Flames from the Caldor Fire scorch the ground near a structure in Grizzly Flats, California, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

More than 25,000 firefighters are battling 104 large fires

The US is working to tame 104 large fires currently burning, mostly in the West, where drought conditions and red flag warnings continue to fuel the flames, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Notably, the Dixie Fire, California’s second-largest in history, has not let up, swelling more than 60,000 acres in two days. Some 678,369 acres have burned as of Thursday, according to Cal Fire. The fire has been active for more than a month and is at 35% containment.

“The Dixie Fire is the first fire that we’re aware of that has burned from the west side of the mountain rage all the way over and to the valley floor on the east side of the mountain range. We don’t have any record of that happening before,” Porter said. “It is exceedingly resistant to control. While we’ve had some successes … when the winds come, we’re finding that fires are spotting in some cases miles outside of that fire.”

The Dixie Fire – the nation’s largest active fire – has destroyed more than 1,200 structures, including 645 single residences, Cal Fire said. At least 16,085 structures are still threatened by the flames. Three first responders have been injured fighting the fire, according to officials.

Meanwhile, the Cache Fire, burning in Lake County, California, has charred 80 acres, destroying homes in its path, according to Cal Fire. It was 20% contained Wednesday.

“Looks like we got several dozen homes that have been lost here, one civilian injury reported so far,” Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin posted on Facebook on Wednesday.

Evacuation orders had been issued for residents in the county, which is about 105 miles northwest of Sacramento.

Meanwhile, the Ford Corkscrew Fire burning northwest of Spokane, Washington, charred 15,000 acres as of Thursday, while containment was at 14%, officials said. “The weather today will be a big help with today’s operational plans,” officials said in a morning update.

In Utah, the Parleys Canyon Fire reached 80% containment Wednesday, officials said, up from 40% the day prior. More than 6,000 homes in the communities of Summit Park, Pine Brook, Lambs Canyon and Mill Creek were evacuated over the weekend, but the evacuation orders were lifted.

CNN’s Dave Hennen, Joe Sutton and Stella Chan contributed to this report.