‘Looking Down a Gun Barrel.’ South Lake Tahoe Residents Should Evacuate Sooner Rather Than Later

The next two days will provide crucial for fire officials to save lives and structures in the Tahoe Basin threatened by the Caldor Fire. A Red Flag Warning has been issued in the area with winds up to 35 mph, the precise worst time to see this kind of weather. With the fire currently moving down Echo Summit, South Lake Tahoe residents should evacuate sooner rather than later.

The fire showed its strength on Sunday night, moving through Twin Bridges with a destructive fervor and destroying much in its path. High elevation cabins were burned to the ground and Sierra-at-Tahoe resort lost at least one building. Now, the fire continues to move down Echo Summit, with a clear path towards South Lake Tahoe.

A longtime wildfire photographer put the situation into dire words by describing how the fire could move quickly into South Lake Tahoe from nearby elevated Echo Summit.

“I asked a local resident and firefighter from South Lake Tahoe if there’s any chance of holding the Caldor Fire at Echo Summit tomorrow,” wrote Stuart Palley on Twitter. “He just responded ‘lol.’ I still hold hope out for a stand along US 50 tomorrow, but we need to be prepared for all contingencies.”

“Echo summit was described to me as ‘looking down a gun barrel.'”

South Lake Tahoe is infamous for having limited roadways going in and out of the area. If you’ve ever tried to deal with Bay Area traffic on a Sunday, you know the traffic can sit still for hours. It’s even worse with Highway 50 and Highway 88 closed nearby. That’s why police took the approach of announcing evacuations throughout different neighborhoods last night, even if they were just under an evacuation warning.

“We have all efforts in place to keep it out of the basin, but we do need to also be aware that that is a possibility based on the way the fires have been burning and the concerns that we have been living in all of these other fires and their growth,” said Cal Fire Director Thom Porter.

“The weather has outstripped and Mother Nature has taken over and taken fires like the Dixie to places that I never thought was possible,” he said.

We’ve seen what happens when people wait until the last minute to evacuate. If you watched the Camp Fire documentary on Netflix, you know many of those people died in their cars trying to get out. It’s a sad reality we must face, and a message that Tahoe locals should hear.

Let’s hope that firefighters can perform a difficult task and keep the fire away from the neighborhoods of Meyers and South Lake Tahoe (and beyond). But if they can’t, please don’t risk you life.

Here are the complete evacuations for the Caldor Fire:

El Dorado County

  • Desolation Wilderness from the watershed ridge to the CA ENF/CA TMU wilderness boundary. From the El Dorado/Placer county line to Echo Lakes.

Alpine County

  • Highway 89 south, from Luther Pass Road to the Pickets Junction (Highway 88). West on Highway 88 to Kirkwood. South to include Kirkwood Ski Resort and Caples Lake.

An evacuation warning means residents are advised of a potential threat to life and property. There is a possibility for an evacuation order. Those who require additional time to evacuate and those with pets and livestock should not wait until an order. These are the latest evacuation warnings:

El Dorado County

  • The remaining area of the Lake Tahoe Basin. From the Alpine/El Dorado county line, north along the California/Nevada state line to Lake Tahoe. North along the water’s edge to the El Dorado/Placer county line. West along the El Dorado/Placer county line to McKinney Lake.

Alpine County

  • Highway 88 at Forestdale Road. West of Forestdale Road and south to the Pacific Crest Trail Crossing. West of the Pacific Crest Trail to the Summit City Canyon Trail. West of Summit City
  • Canyon Trail and south to the El Dorado / Stanislaus National Forest Line. El Dorado / Stanislaus
  • National Forest Line west to the Alpine and Amador County line.
  • South of Armstrong Summit to Woodfords to Forestdale Road, north of Highway 88 and Highway
  • 89 to Armstrong Summit.

Those evacuated from the area can access a Red Cross Shelter at the Douglas County Community Center in Nevada. It’s located at 1329 Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville.

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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