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Entire city of South Lake Tahoe under orders to evacuate as Caldor Fire races toward the lake

APTOPIX Western Wildfires
Posted at 12:27 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 20:00:01-04

The Caldor Fire is forcing thousands of people to rush to leave South Lake Tahoe as the entire tourist city comes under evacuation orders.

The wildfire is headed straight toward Lake Tahoe, a large freshwater lake on the California-Nevada border. The area is popular year-round for outdoor activities, as well as casino gambling on the Nevada side.

Evacuation warnings issued for the city of South Lake Tahoe on Sunday turned into orders Monday.

There were so many vehicles trying to leave the area on Highway 50 that traffic came to a standstill.

Western Wildfires
With the Caldor Fire approaching, Chad Merritt stands outside his vehicle as evacuee traffic stands still in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Other communities several miles south of the lake were abruptly ordered evacuated over the weekend.

APTOPIX Western Wildfires
Seen in a long camera exposure, the Caldor Fire burns on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Eldorado National Forest, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The huge Caldor Fire has grown to 177,260 acres and is just 14% contained as of Monday morning.

Forecasters are warning of critical fire weather through Tuesday, and fire officials say embers from the fire are traveling up to half a mile away.

WATCH: State, federal officials provide update on statewide wildfires

The Caldor Fire started on August 14, south of the community of Grizzly Flats in El Dorado County. It has destroyed 472 structures and more than 20,000 remain threatened.

More than 3,600 firefighters are battling the fire.

The cause is unknown.

For the latest updates and evacuation order details, click here.