tens of thousands of caldor fire evacuees return to south lake tahoe to observe the devastation as officials warn a devastating fire near their homes

Tens of thousands of residents who were evacuated from South Lake Tahoe in the teeth of the Caldor Fire can now return home to their homes with firefighters containing 44 per cent of the fire.  

Evacuation orders in the residential area were downgraded to warnings on Sunday afternoon, but people with health problems were advised to stay away because of the polluted air.      

Authorities have also warned residents about belligerent bears breaking inside homes and businesses after the scenic forest area on the California-Nevada state line was evacuated on Monday, August 30 as the Caldor Fire approached. 

Mandatory evacuation orders on the Nevada side of the state line were lifted Saturday, although Douglas County authorities urged residents to stay alert, saying the fire still has the potential to threaten homes.

The threat from the Caldor Fire, which has been active for 22 days, hasn't entirely vanished but downgrading to a warning meant those who wish could return to their homes in what had been a smoke-choked ghost town instead of a thriving Labor Day getaway location.

The Caldor Fire destroyed more than 921 structures, scorched 215,400 acres and injured five people, according to Cal Fire.

Residents of South Lake Tahoe can now return to their homes after the evacuation order  was downgraded to warning on Sunday afternoon, but people with health concerns were advised to stay away because of air pollution. Pictured: Residents fleeing the area on August 30 were left in bumper-to-bumber traffic

Residents of South Lake Tahoe can now return to their homes after the evacuation order  was downgraded to warning on Sunday afternoon, but people with health concerns were advised to stay away because of air pollution. Pictured: Residents fleeing the area on August 30 were left in bumper-to-bumber traffic

The Caldor Fire destroyed more than 921 structures, scorched 215,400 acres and injured five people, according to Cal Fire. Authorities said on Monday that the fire was 44 percent contained

The Caldor Fire destroyed more than 921 structures, scorched 215,400 acres and injured five people, according to Cal Fire. Authorities said on Monday that the fire was 44 percent contained 

The 22,000 residents in the area were evacuated on August 30because of the Caldor Fire

The 22,000 residents in the area were evacuated on August 30because of the Caldor Fire 

Bill Roberts rolls up an American flag in front of his house in South Lake Tahoe, a day after the city was ordered to evacuate because of the approaching Caldor Fire

Bill Roberts rolls up an American flag in front of his house in South Lake Tahoe, a day after the city was ordered to evacuate because of the approaching Caldor Fire

Grayson Howard plays the guitar while helping friends who evacuated to the the Green Valley Community Church evacuation shelter on Thursday, August 19

Grayson Howard plays the guitar while helping friends who evacuated to the the Green Valley Community Church evacuation shelter on Thursday, August 19

Firefighters battle the Caldor fire along highway 89 west of Lake Tahoe on Thursday, September 2

Firefighters battle the Caldor fire along highway 89 west of Lake Tahoe on Thursday, September 2

Firefighter Elroy Valadez adjusts his helmet while trying to put out a spot fire from the Caldor Fire burning along Highway 89 near South Lake Tahoe

Firefighter Elroy Valadez adjusts his helmet while trying to put out a spot fire from the Caldor Fire burning along Highway 89 near South Lake Tahoe

California Highway Patrol officers began removing roadblocks along State Highway 50 from Nevada to the city limits, but not many of the 22,000 residents in South Lake Tahoe are returning yet.  

South Lake Tahoe Fire Chief Clive Savacool said: 'So far it hasn´t been a mad rush of cars. We´re happy to see that people are slowly trickling in, just because the city does need time to get ready.'

Savacool also said officials hoped to have the local hospital emergency room open within 24 hours and said paramedics were staffing fire engines for emergency medical care.

People who do return should have enough medication and groceries and a full gas tank in order to be self-sufficient.

He assured returning residents that their homes would be safe, as law enforcement was still patrolling.  

In the absence of humans, bears have ran free in the area, spreading trash everywhere that must be picked up.

'The delicate balance between humans and bears has been upset,' said El Dorado County Sherriff Sgt. Simon Brown. 

Anyone who thinks a bear may have entered their home was advised to call law enforcement.   

Residents of South Lake Tahoe were evacuated on Monday Aug 30, because the Caldor Fire was threatening nearby homes. The Caldor Fire has been active for 22 days and has scorched over 200,000 acres

California has experienced an unparalleled fire season this year. The Dixie Fire, no 56percent contained, has become the largest fire in the history of the state

(FILE) Tod Johnson stands in front of his house in South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday, August 31, a day after the city was ordered to evacuate because of the fast-growing Caldor Fire

 Tod Johnson stands in front of his house in South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday, August 31, a day after the city was ordered to evacuate because of the fast-growing Caldor Fire

(FILE) A firefighter lights a backfire to stop the Caldor Fire from spreading near South Lake Tahoe, California. The Caldor Fire has been 44percent contained

A firefighter lights a backfire to stop the Caldor Fire from spreading near South Lake Tahoe, California. The Caldor Fire has been 44percent contained 

(FILE) A firefighter carries a water hose toward a spot fire from the Caldor Fire burning along Highway 89 near South Lake Tahoe, California. The Caldor Fire has damaged more than 900 structures, according to Cal Fire

A firefighter carries a water hose toward a spot fire from the Caldor Fire burning along Highway 89 near South Lake Tahoe, California. The Caldor Fire has damaged more than 900 structures, according to Cal Fire 

The lifting of mandatory evacuation orders for the Tahoe area marked a milestone in the fight against the fire, which erupted on August 14 and spread across nearly 340sq-miles of dense national parks and forests, tree-dotted granite cliffs and scattered cabins and hamlets in the northern Sierra Nevada.

At its peak, the fire had burned as much as 1,000 acres an hour and last month virtually razed the small community of Grizzly Flats.

But in recent days the winds had eased and thousands of firefighters took advantage of the better weather to hack, burn and bulldoze fire lines, managing to contain 44percent of the perimeter.

Most of the western and southern sides of the fire had been corralled, although some areas still were off-limits.

No homes had been lost on the northeastern side of the fire nearest to the lake, and crews managed to carve more fire line along one edge of a fiery finger.

(FILE) A couple looks out on Lake Tahoe, which is blanketed by smoke from the Caldor Fire, in South Lake Tahoe, California State fire officials say evacuation orders for the area were reduced to warnings as of 3pm Sunday, September 5

A couple looks out on Lake Tahoe, which is blanketed by smoke from the Caldor Fire, in South Lake Tahoe, California State fire officials say evacuation orders for the area were reduced to warnings as of 3pm Sunday, September 5

Evacuation orders in South Lake Tahoe prompted by the Caldor Fire have been downgraded to warning, as some of its 22,000 residents make their way back to the homes

Evacuation orders in South Lake Tahoe prompted by the Caldor Fire have been downgraded to warning, as some of its 22,000 residents make their way back to the homes 

Usually a vacation getaway for Labor Day, South Lake Tahoe became a smoke-choked ghost town as the Caldor Fire approached

California has experienced an unparalleled fire season this year. The Dixie Fire, now 56percent contained, has become the second largest fire in the history of the state

California has experienced an unparalleled fire season this year. The Dixie Fire, now 56percent contained, has become the second largest fire in the history of the state

The fire hadn't made significant progress for days but there were still sections where crews were struggling to expand safe areas and mop up hot spots, allowing evacuation orders there to be lifted.

Jake Cagle, a fire operations section chief, said: 'We're up into the wilderness area. It's just a tough piece of ground. We're in there beating it up. It's over a two-hour hike to get in there.'

California and much of the U.S. West have seen dozens of wildfires in the past two months as the drought-stricken region sweltered under hot, dry weather and winds drove flames through bone-dry vegetation.

In California, nearly 14,500 firefighters were battling 13 large, active fires. Since the year began, more than 7,000 wildfires have devoured 3,000sq-miles, Cal Fire said.

No deaths had been reported specifically from the fires. However, authorities said two people assigned to fire-related duties died from illness this week, officials said.

Marcus Pacheco, an assistant fire engine operator for Lassen National Forest with 30 years of experience, died on Thursday. 

He was assigned to the Dixie Fire burning north of the Caldor Fire, authorities said.

Other details weren´t immediately released.

The Dixie Fire began in mid-July in the northern Sierra Nevada and is the second-largest wildfire in recorded state history.

It has burned nearly 1,400sq-miles in five counties and three national parks and forests, according to Cal Fire.

A retired firefighter who was hired to help with the French Fire died from complications of COVID-19, authorities said. 

He was identified as Allen Johnson.

'Our team, the firefighting community and the world lost a great friend, mentor, teacher and comrade last night,' said a Facebook posting last Wednesday from California Interagency Incident Management Team 14.

The French Fire in Kern County was 52percent contained after burning about 41sq-miles.

Fire concerns have shut down all national forests in the state.

California has experienced increasingly larger and deadlier wildfires in recent years as climate change has made the West much warmer and drier over the past 30 years.

Scientists have said weather will continue to be more extreme and wildfires more frequent, destructive and unpredictable.

This year California has faced an unparalleled fire season, set to surpass 2020's, which is the worst recorded to date. By mid-July, 103,588 more acres had been scorched compared to the same period last year, according to Cal Fire.

(FILE) This aerial photo provided by the United States Forest Service Lassen National Forest shows the Great Basin Team 1 Air Attack operations on Saturday on the Dixie Fire on the Horton Ridge in Plumas County, California

This aerial photo provided by the United States Forest Service Lassen National Forest shows the Great Basin Team 1 Air Attack operations on Saturday on the Dixie Fire on the Horton Ridge in Plumas County, California 

The Dixie Fire began in mid-July in the northern Sierra Nevada and is the second-largest wildfire in recorded state history. It has burned nearly 1,400sq-miles

 The Dixie Fire began in mid-July in the northern Sierra Nevada and is the second-largest wildfire in recorded state history. It has burned nearly 1,400sq-miles

Top 20 most destructive California wildfires, from 2018's Camp Fire which killed 85 to last year's Creek blaze which razed 379,895 acres

Camp Fire (caused by fallen powerlines): November 2018, Butte county, 153,336 acres destroyed, 18,804 structures damaged, 85 deaths

Tubbs fire : October 2017, Napa & Sonoma counties, 36,807 acres destroyed, 5,636 structures damaged, 22 deaths

Tunnel fire - Oakland Hills : October 1991, Alameda county, 1,600 acres destroyed, 2,900 structures damaged, 25 death

Cedar fire (Human Related): October 2003, San Diego county, 273,246 acres destroyed, 2,820 structures damaged, 15 deaths

North Complex fire (Under Investigation): August, 2020, Butte, Plumas, & Yuba counties, 318,935 acres destroyed, 2,352 structures damaged, 15 deaths

Valley fire : September 2015, Lake, Napa & Sonoma counties, 76,067 acres destroyed, 1,955 structures damaged, 4 deaths

Witch fire : October 2007, San Diego county, 197,990 acres destroyed , 1,650 structures damaged, 2 deaths 

Woolsey fire (Under Investigation): November 2018, Ventura county, 96,949 acres destroyed, 1,643 structures damaged, 3 deaths  

Carr fire (Human Related): July 2018, Shasta County, Trinity 229,651 acres destroyed, 1,614 structures damaged, 8 deaths  

Glass Fire (Under Investigation ): September 2020, Napa & Sonoma counties,  67,484 acres destroyed, 1,520 structures damaged

LNU Lightning Complex fire (Under Investigation): August 2020 Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, Lake, & Colusa 363,220 1,491 6  

CZU Lightning Complex fire : August 2020, Santa Cruz, San Mateo counties, 86,509 acres destroyed, 1,490 structures damaged, 1  death

Nuns fire : October 2017, Sonoma county, 54,382 acres destroyed, 1,355 structures damaged, 3 deaths

Thomas fire : December 2017, Ventura & Santa Barbara counties, 281,893 acres destroyed,  1,063 structures damaged, 2 deaths

Old fire (Human Related): October 2003, San Bernardino county, 91,281 acres destroyed, 1,003 structures damaged, 6 deaths

Jones fire : October 1999, Shasta county, 26,200 acres destroyed, 954 structures damaged, 1 death

August Complex fire (Under Investigation): August 2020, Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity, Tehama, Glenn, Lake, & Colusa counties, 1,032,648 acres destroyed, 935 structures damaged, 1 death

Butte : September 2015, Amador & Calaveras counties, 70,868 acres destroyed, 921 structures damaged, 2 deaths 

Dixie fire (Under Investigation): July 2021, Butte, Plumas, Lassen, & Tehama counties,  898,951 acres destroyed, 1,282 structures damaged  

Creek fire (Under Investigation): September 2020,  Fresno & Madera counties, 379,895 acres destroyed, 856 structures damaged 

 Source: Cal Fire