'This Fire Does Stuff I’ve Never Seen Before'

Firefighters make progress in Tahoe battle, but danger remains
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2021 12:59 PM CDT
Firefighters Catch Break in Lake Tahoe Battle
A shopping mall is empty after a mandatory evacuation was ordered due to the Caldor Fire in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(Newser) – Firefighters battling to save the Lake Tahoe resort area got some help from the weather overnight. Operations section chief Tim Ernst told firefighters Wednesday morning that they had "lucked out" with winds that were not as fierce as expected, allowing them to make progress defending the South Lake Tahoe area, the AP reports. Officials say some remote cabins in the area have burned, but it's not clear how many—and with swirling winds expected, the threat is still very real.

"The problem is it’s not one direction. It comes from the canyons in all directions," Dave Lauchner, a battalion chief with the Sacramento Fire Department, tells the Los Angeles Times. "This fire does stuff I’ve never seen before." Lauchner expects the Caldor Fire—only the second fire, after the still-burning Dixie Fire, to span the Sierra Nevada mountains from east to west—to peter out amid sparser vegetation higher in the mountains. The areas where it is burning now haven't seen a major wildfire in around 80 years.

Only a handful of people remained in South Lake Tahoe after a Monday evacuation order, and bears have been seen roaming the streets, reports the Sacramento Bee. The fire is now burning toward the California-Nevada border, where the Heavenly ski resort has turned on snow-making machines to keep the slopes wet and slow the fire down. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued in parts of Nevada's Douglas County, though casinos were excluded, per the AP. (Read more California wildfires stories.)

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