SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. -- Another day of dry, windy weather in the Lake Tahoe area Tuesday is helping to spread a massive wildfire as it encroaches on the Lake Tahoe area, forcing residents to flee.
Fire Weather Warnings remain in effect through Tuesday for southwesterly gusts of 30-40 mph and relative humidity levels between 5% and 15%.
And to the southwest of Lake Tahoe, the massive Caldor Fire continues to be blown closer to town. Officials already ordered the entire evacuation of South Lake Tahoe -- population 22,000 -- on Monday which triggered hours of gridlock.
Ken Breslin was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic less than a mile from his home in the city of 22,000, with only a quarter-tank of gas in his Ford Escape, he told the Associated Press. His son begged him to leave Sunday night, but he shrugged him off, certain that if an evacuation order came, it would be later in the week.
"Before, it was, 'No worries ... it's not going to crest. It's not going to come down the hill. There's 3,500 firefighters, all those bulldozers and all the air support,'" he told AP. "Until this morning, I didn't think there was a chance it could come into this area. Now it's very real."
Cal Fire has sent more firefighters to protect the region, which is a popular year-round vacation destination. There are now nearly 3,700 firefighters alone on the Caldor Fire, which sits at just 16% contained. It's destroyed over 650 buildings and threatens at least 33,000 more, Cal Fire officials said.
The threat of fire is so widespread that the U.S. Forest Service announced Monday that all national forests in California would be closed until Sept. 17.
The Caldor Fire has scorched nearly 300 square miles since breaking out Aug. 14.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.