Caldor fire: Ski resort staff use snow guns to tackle blaze at Lake Tahoe

·2-min read

In an attempt to tame the raging Caldor fire, staff at a ski resort near South Lake Tahoe, California, have been using snow-making machines to protect buildings from fast-moving flames.

The Caldor Fire ignited around two weeks ago near Omo Ranch in El Dorado County, east of Sacramento.

It has since burned through 204,000 acres, destroying 729 structures and leaving five people injured. It reached the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort in Twin Bridges on Sunday.

Staff raced to protect the ski resort by closing air ducts to prevent coal and smoke damage and doused the grounds and buildings with water pumped from snow-making machines.

At another ski resort 30 miles south of South Lake Tahoe, firefighters used ski lifts in order to quickly survey how the flames were spreading.

Now, the Caldor Fire is creeping towards Lake Tahoe, a popular tourist destination spot for skiing, hiking, and boating. Normally filled with visitors at this time of the year, the city is a ghost town due to evacuation orders ahead of the holiday weekend.

Caldor Fire spreads towards South Lake Tahoe, a popular tourist destination (National Interagency Fire Center, VIIRS-SNPP, EPA AirNow, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA))
Caldor Fire spreads towards South Lake Tahoe, a popular tourist destination (National Interagency Fire Center, VIIRS-SNPP, EPA AirNow, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA))

"We do have a very important holiday weekend. But we have good summers so Labor Day is sort of the last hurrah and, honestly, people's lives are more important than worrying about tourism,” South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tamara Wallace told CNN.

As the Caldor Fire burned towards South Lake Tahoe across the border in Nevada, Governor Steve Sisolak issued evacuation orders for neighboring Douglas County.

Over 53,000 people have been evacuated from El Dorado, Amador, and Alpine counties in California, and Douglas County, Nevada.

Earlier this week, the US Forest Service declared that all national forests in California will be closed until 17 September for public safety due to the fires.

More than 15,000 firefighters, including those from neighboring states, are working to contain the Caldor Fire alone.

For the first time in a decade, all eight of the US military’s fire retardant aircraft have been sent to the location and are operating out of McClellan Park, 100 miles west of Lake Tahoe.

The Caldor Fire, which is just 20 per cent contained, is one of 15 active wildfires in California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

In 2021 alone, 6,959 fires have burned through 1,830,307 acres in California, according to the state fire agency, Cal Fire.

The climate crisis is driving higher temperatures and causing more extreme droughts, leading to prolonged, more volatile and more intense wildfires.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Monday in Alpine, Amador, and Placer counties in order to free up resources while Gov. Sisolak also issued a state of emergency for the whole of Nevada.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning until Wednesday evening for the northern Sierra Nevada and the southern Cascades due to expected winds of up to 35 mph which risk fanning the Caldor Fire’s flames.

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