Tuesday, August 24, 2021 - 09:15

More than 13,500 firefighters were working Monday to contain a dozen large California wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of people to flee to safety.

After an extensive review of fire damage, Gov. Gavin Newsom requested a presidential major disaster declaration for eight counties, Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services, told a briefing near Sacramento.

If approved, the declaration would provide a wide range of assistance including housing, food aid, unemployment and governmental emergency costs, Ghilarducci said.

Nearly 43,000 Californians were under under evacuation orders and more than 500 households were in shelters, he said.

New concerns were developing at the explosive Caldor Fire southwest of Lake Tahoe, the famed alpine lake straddling the California-Nevada state line and surrounded by peaks of the Sierra Nevada and resort communities.

The Caldor Fire, just 9% contained, has become the nation’s number one priority for firefighting resources, said Chief Thom Porter, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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