Thousands Evacuate Lake Tahoe to Escape Caldor Fire

Image: Eric Philbin, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer


Tens of thousands have evacuated Lake Tahoe as the Caldor wildfire charges towards the resort town. The raging Caldor Fire has burned 277 square miles since it began in early August and has threatened 20,000 structures, burning 600 to the ground. The fire has stagnated at less than 20% containment.

Why this Matters: Caldor’s presence in Lake Tahoe is yet more evidence that wildfires are becoming increasingly destructive and more difficult to contain. Two fires that started this month, Caldor and Dixie—the second-largest wildfire in state history— are the only ones that burned from one side of the Sierra Nevada to the other.

 Even worse, more than 15,000 firefighters are helping contain California’s current fires, but Hurricane Ida’s landfall on the east coast has depleted the number of emergency responders available. Climate change has intensified a chaotic collection of natural disasters across the country, a national state of emergency that will only get more difficult to manage as global warming worsens.

Lake of Fire

Fires have typically avoided Lake Tahoe, which has been lucky for the town’s tourist industry. On weekends, the population often triples and sometimes increases by 100,000 on particularly busy weekends. To combat the growing risk of fire, the US Forest Service is closing all national forests in California until September 17

“We do not take this decision lightly, but this is the best choice for public safety,” Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien stated. “It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend when so many people enjoy our national forests.”

“There is fire activity happening in California that we have never seen before. The critical thing for the public to know is evacuate early,” Chief Thom Porter, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, announced. “For the rest of you in California: Every acre can and will burn someday in this state.”

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