California firefighters are putting tremendous effort, from super tankers to snow machines, in an attempt to stop a huge fire that is threatening communities and resorts near the pastoral Lake Tahoe in the north of the state.
The fire of Caldor, which began about two and a half weeks ago, reached the basin of Lake Tahoe on Monday evening with the help of strong winds. This is only the second time that a fire that began on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range has reached the eastern side, with the precedent set by the Dixie fire, the second largest in California history, which has been raging for nearly 50 days.
Thousands of firefighters are battling fires with the help of hundreds of firefighters, three huge firefighting planes and more than 20 helicopters that threw flame retardants, but so far only 18 percent of the fire has consumed 800,000 dunams and destroyed nearly 700 buildings and injured five firefighters. And citizens.
Tonight, firefighters began trying to divert the fire toward the nearby Tamarak fire that flared up again in hopes they could stop the spread of the giant fire. “Sometimes, when an extreme fire is burning, that’s all we can do,” said Eric Schwab of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “It’s a valid tactic and we’re trying to do it.”
More than 53,000 people were evacuated from the city area south of Lake Tahoe, the most populous settlement near the lake that has become a ghost settlement, and the city hospital is also evacuating all patients. “We are waiting to see what happens with the buildings and businesses in our community and with the homes of the residents,” said Mayor Tamara Wallace.
Large traffic jams were recorded in the area as residents and tourists rushed to escape the blaze. “Until now, it was ‘not terrible, the fire will not reach the top of the ridge. It will not go down the hill. There are 3,500 firefighters, bulldozers and air support,'” said Ken Breslin, who left his family south of Lake Tahoe. “I did not think there was a chance it would reach the area. Now, it is very real.”
The fear is that the flames will also reach the witness forests that surround the famous lake, cabins and popular hotels, especially in the summer season. In the state of Nevada, which is on the other side of the lake, residents in nearby communities have also been called upon to prepare for the possibility of evacuation, but in the meantime, the casinos continue their routine activities in the shadow of the heavy smoke that surrounds the area.
The Caldor fire is one of the largest wildfires currently raging in California and is becoming more common due to climate change. “There’s a fire activity going on right now in California like we’ve never seen before. The critical thing the public needs to know is to evacuate early,” said California Fire Department Director Tom Porter. “For the others in California: anyone can be burned one day in the state and so it will happen.”