Caldor Fire forces thousands to flee; U.S. 50 westbound closed

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Thousands of individuals rushed to go away to South Lake Tahoe on Monday because the entire resort city came under evacuation orders and wildfire raced toward Lake Tahoe. Evacuation warnings issued for the town of twenty-two,000 on Sunday became orders Monday. Vehicles loaded with bikes and camping gear and hauling boats were stuck in traffic, stalled in hazy, brown air that smelled of a campfire. Police and other emergency vehicles whizzed by.

U.S. Highway 50 was closed to westbound traffic at Golf Club Drive. “This may be a systematic evacuation, one neighborhood at a time,” South Lake Tahoe Police Lt. Travis Cabral said on social media. “I am asking you as our community to please remain calm.” The new orders came each day after communities several miles south of the lake were abruptly ordered evacuated because the Caldor fire raged nearby.

South Lake Tahoe’s main medical facility, Barton Memorial Hospital, proactively evacuated 36 patients needing skilled nursing and 16 in acute care beds Sunday, sending them to regional facilities far away from the hearth, public information officer Mindi Befu said. the remainder of the hospital was evacuating following Monday’s expanded borders. South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tamara Wallace prepared to go away together with her husband, youngest child, dogs, and items given to them from their deceased parent — objects that cannot be replaced.

She thought the Caldor Fire would stay farther away. Fires within the past didn’t spread so rapidly near the tourist city. “It’s just yet one more example of how wildfires have changed over the years,” she said. “It’s just a culmination of 14 to 18 more years of dead trees, the droughts we’ve had since then, those sorts of things.” The region faces a warning from the National Weather Service about critical fire weather Monday and Tuesday.

The fire destroyed multiple homes Sunday along Highway 50, one among the most routes to the lake’s south end. It also roared through the Sierra-at-Tahoe resort, demolishing some buildings but leaving most buildings at the bottom intact. Fire churned through mountains just a couple of miles southwest of the Tahoe Basin, where thick smoke sent visitors packing at a time when summer vacations would usually fully swing before Labor Day weekend. There were reports of cabins burned within the unincorporated community of Echo Lake, where Tom Fashinell has operated Echo Chalet together with his wife since 1984. The summer-only resort offers cabin rentals but was ordered to shut early for the season by the U.S. Forest Service thanks to ongoing wildfires.

Fashinell said he was glued to the local TV news. “We’re watching to ascertain whether the building survives,” he said. The last major blaze within the area took South Lake Tahoe all of sudden after berating from an illegal campfire within the summer of 2007. The Angora Fire burned but 5 square miles but destroyed 254 homes, injured three people, and made 2,000 people escape.

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