What Tahoe Looks Like Right Now

2 weeks ago 7
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California Today

A dispatch from the Caldor fire, which is threatening ample swaths of this tourer destination and has forced thousands to evacuate.

Thomas Fuller

Aug. 31, 2021, 8:50 a.m. ET


Traffic was astatine  a standstill adjacent   South Lake Tahoe connected  Monday with radical   evacuating arsenic  the Caldor occurrence  approached.
Credit...Noah Berger/Associated Press

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Sometimes you can’t assistance but scope for a cliché: South Lake Tahoe connected Monday evening was the calm earlier the storm. After a frenzied mandatory evacuation that forced thousands to flee, the municipality went eerily still.

Everything was closed. Supermarket parking tons were empty; restaurants and motels were deserted. A antheral evacuating by bicycle, covering piled precocious down his seat, pedaled past. The roads felt wider without immoderate traffic.

On the past days of August, Lake Tahoe would usually beryllium heavy with tourists paddleboarding, fishing, lounging, drinking and hiking.

“You’ll ne'er spot South Lake Tahoe similar this again,” a nonmigratory told maine earlier closing his car doorway and driving down an bare roadworthy toward Nevada.

The mandatory evacuation portion created by the fast-moving Caldor occurrence extended from Tahoma, Calif., connected the occidental enactment of the lake, to the Nevada borderline arsenic of Monday evening.

And yet a 10-minute thrust distant determination was urgency successful the aerial arsenic hundreds of firefighters fought to prevention Lake Tahoe. The Caldor fire, which ignited 2 weeks ago, crested a ridge connected Monday and, propelled by beardown winds, began descending into the well-populated Tahoe basin.

The occurrence was 15 percent contained connected Monday, though that fig hardly seemed to substance arsenic the occurrence bore down connected South Lake Tahoe.

Less than a twelve miles from the lakeshore, inmate occurrence crews bounded down mountainsides to enactment retired spot fires. The switchbacks starring to Echo Summit, the 7,482-foot walk that leads to the Gold Rush towns on the American River, were covered with the yellow-jacketed men and women of Cal Fire. They squinted up astatine the upland and the occurrence descending it.

I drove betwixt these 2 places connected Monday evening, betwixt the quiescent municipality and fiery hillside, and I had occupation processing the contrast.

It was astir arsenic if South Lake Tahoe was taking a heavy enactment connected Monday night, steeling itself for a conflict with the occurrence that seemed determined to sound astatine its gates.

Until Monday, the Caldor occurrence had burned up and down distant Sierra hillsides, brushing past tiny Gold Rush hamlets. More than 480 homes person been destroyed successful the fire’s path, galore of them abrogation cabins.

But what comes adjacent for the Caldor occurrence is simply a terrifying imaginable of an wholly antithetic magnitude. With the occurrence present successful the Tahoe Basin, Cal Fire estimates that 33,679 homes are threatened.

After a strangely beauteous sunset connected Monday, a household of ducks floated past an bare white-sand formation successful South Lake Tahoe. They seemed oblivious arsenic the aerial became dense with fume — and a municipality awaited its fate.

For more:

Thomas Fuller is the San Francisco bureau main for The New York Times.


Credit...Stephen Lam/Reuters


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Credit...Gentl and Hyers for The New York Times


Credit...Peter Prato for The New York Times

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Read answers to much of your often asked questions astir the California callback election.

Tell america what other you privation to cognize astir the recall. Email your questions to CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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