California’s Mosquito Fire prompts more evacuations as it races toward mountain communities, burning homes and cars in its path

Inferno – the largest wildfire currently burning in California – began west of Lake Tahoe in the midst of a scorching summer on September 6 and has already consumed nearly 50,330 acres in El Dorado and Placer Counties. It was 25% contained Tuesday night.

Burning intensely and spreading deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the fire has forced more than 11,200 people to flee as it threatened thousands of structures, including at least 25 homes, according to Cal Fire. As of Monday, 46 structures are burning.

By Tuesday afternoon, the fire had pushed toward the community of Forresthill and reached the edge of Forresthill High School, igniting structures across the street as firefighters rushed to drop the flame retardant on the raging fire.

Aerial video from CNN affiliate KCRA showed flames burning a row of cars and structures beneath thick, dark smoke.

Cal Fire Public Information Officer Scott McLean told CNN it was not immediately clear how many buildings and vehicles were lost in the fire, but firefighters kept the flames out of Forresthill High School.

Although firefighters were aided by calm weather over the weekend, strong southwest winds struck the area on Tuesday, breaking a reversal of smoke that had been hanging over the Mosquito fire for several days.

Crews monitor a backfire during a mosquito fire Wednesday in Placer County, California.

As the trapped smoke cleared in the afternoon, the flames exploded, and the fire broke out in a spot from the middle fork of the American River on the west corner of the perimeter of the fire and passed through severely dry fuel and steep terrain. She ran towards Foresthill.

Flames progressed into Placer County, down the communities of Todd Valley and Foresthill toward El Dorado County, Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Landon Hack said during an evening briefing.

Officials said firefighters trying to stop the spread of the fire to other areas were diverted to help catch the community’s bottom line.

Smoke from mosquito fires begins to create unhealthy to dangerous conditions in Northern California

“They have a very important firefight going on right now as we speak. They’re working really hard to catch that fire in that box,” Hack said.

Cal Fire behavior analyst Jonathan Pangburn told the briefing that the fire had leapt an area along the bends and turns in the river, where the wind swirls and pushes out smoke and embers.

Additional evacuations were ordered Tuesday afternoon, including in the community of Stumpy Meadows, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.

Officials said mosquito fires are progressing eastwards in densely forested areas with extremely dry vegetation.

Even before the winds cleared the smoke on Tuesday, it created unhealthy air quality in the region due to the high concentration of particulate matter from the fire in the air.

Smoke rolled through state lines into Nevada, where the US Air Quality Index reported “very unhealthy” air quality.
The fire is one of several burning fires across the West that are suffocating the air with smoke. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 93 large active fires across the West and campuses have burned more than 800,000 acres.
In Oregon, the lightning-sparked Cedar Creek fire has quadrupled in size since last week, burning about 92,548 acres as of Tuesday and was still burning with 0% containment.
An aerial view of the burnt trees burning the Mosquito fire on Sunday.

In the midst of constant drought, a fire is burning in the dry land

Frying under rising temperatures, drought-stricken western states are growing areas of easy-to-burn dry brush that could become fuel for more volatile wildfires.

The fires are still burning amid a water shortage emergency that is forcing residents to limit outdoor water as California’s reservoirs are shrinking.
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In the Golden State, residents are grappling with unprecedented water restrictions. The Metropolitan Water District first declared a water scarcity emergency in April, limiting outdoor water access to millions of residents in dozens of Southern California cities.

City Mayor Eric Garcetti said that for the third month in a row, Los Angeles residents reduced their water use last month to a record level for any August on record, with temperatures averaging 3 to 5 degrees warmer.

According to Garcetti, Los Angeles residents’ water use in August was 10% less than the same month in the previous two years.

Firefighter Christian Mendoza lights a backfire to burn off vegetation on Tuesday.

“In the face of monthly heat records, Angelenos have gone above and beyond to find additional ways to cut back – and as we continue to battle skyrocketing temperatures and drier reservoirs, I know That Los Angeles will continue to show our region and what meaningful conservation looks like to the rest of the world,” the mayor said in a statement.

CNN’s Taylor Romaine contributed to this report.

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