By Kelly McCleary and Alta Spells, CNN
The Dixie Fire in northern California is on its way to becoming the largest wildfire in the state’s history, officials say.
It has burned 917,579 acres and was only 59% contained as of Tuesday. Currently, the largest fire by acreage for the state is the August Complex, which burned 1,032,648 acres in 2020.
The Dixie Fire started on July 14 and has damaged or destroyed at least 1,282 structures, according to Cal Fire.
Of the top 20 largest wildfires since 1932, 17 have occurred since 2000; 11 since 2016; five in 2020 — and three from this year.
“For September through December the entire state shows drier, more wind events, and large fire activity to continue for the next three months,” said Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter.
Firefighters in California made significant progress against the Caldor Fire over the weekend, allowing for some evacuation orders in the Lake Tahoe region to be downgraded.
As of Tuesday morning, the Caldor Fire had consumed 216,646 acres near the California-Nevada border. The flames are 49% contained about three weeks after it started on August 14, Cal Fire said.
While still massive, the Caldor Fire’s growth slowed over the weekend, adding just 842 acres in a 24-hour period between Friday night and Saturday night, according to CNN’s analysis of fire information. That’s a far cry from its explosive start, when the fire grew to nearly 100,000 acres in its first week.
Since it began, the Caldor Fire has destroyed more than 990 structures, including homes, business and other buildings, Cal Fire said. More than 27,000 structures are threatened.
Evacuation orders for the city of South Lake Tahoe were downgraded to evacuation warnings, nearly a week after thousands in the resort town clogged roadways when officials told them to get out because flames were racing into the area. Residents and visitors were allowed to return home over the weekend.
Other parts of El Dorado County saw their evacuation orders downgraded to a warning Saturday while other warnings were lifted, according to Cal Fire.
The areas of Fallen Leaf Lake, Christmas Valley, Meyers and North Upper Truckee remain under an evacuation order.
Across the state border in Nevada, mandatory evacuations in Douglas County were downgraded to precautionary evacuations Saturday, according to an announcement on the county’s website, opening the door for some residents there to return home.
Progress accompanied by new fires
As fire officials recorded progress in the Caldor Fire, three new wildfires popped up Sunday in California.
In Amador County, near where the Caldor Fire is burning, the Lawrence Fire exploded to 46 acres, burning grass, brush and timber, Cal Fire said.
The fire prompted brief road closures and evacuations as it threatened a handful of structures, but firefighters were able to quickly mitigate the threat. The Lawrence Fire was 90% contained Monday.
Farther north in Placer County, the Bridge Fire burned 411 acres with 25% containment. Cal Fire noted evacuations are in progress.
In Southern California, the Aruba Fire sparked in San Diego County, burning 54 acres southeast of the community of Rainbow, Cal Fire said. It was 75% contained Tuesday.
Overall, California has tallied 7,171 fire incidents in 2021 as the state suffers through a brutal fire season made worse by climate change that is fueling a grueling drought and high temperatures.
Nationally, 78 large wildfires are currently burning across 1.9 million acres, the National Interagency Fire Center said. Idaho has 20 fires and Montana has 17.
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CNN’s Michael Guy, Cheri Mossburg, Deanna Hackney and Keith Allen contributed to this report.