Protecting the Lake Tahoe Basin has become the nation’s top firefighting priority as the Caldor Fire rapidly grows. With more than 3,200 fire personnel working to contain the Caldor blaze California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has requested a presidential major disaster declaration for eight counties, including some of those surrounding Lake Tahoe. If approved this request would allow food, housing, and unemployment aid from the government for the 43,000 Californians under evacuation orders, none of which yet affect the Lake Tahoe Basin.
With explosive growth, the Caldor fire is now “knocking on the door to the Lake Tahoe basin” according to firefighting officials. The fire has grown to more than 218 sq miles (564 sq km), larger than the area of Lake Tahoe itself. With only 12% total containment officials worry the Caldor fire has “has simply outpaced us” and although unlikely, could potentially reach the Lake Tahoe Basin. To prevent this the fire has been allocated the highest priority in the United States, with around-the-clock work taking place to prevent further spread.
“We have all efforts in place to keep it out of the basin but we do need to also be aware that is a possibility [the fire reaches the basin] based on the way the fires have been burning.” –Calfire Chief, Thom Porter
Throughout the basin and extending to Reno hazardous air quality caused by wildfire smoke have forced school closures, affecting more than 67,000 students. While heavy smoke has hindered air support evacuation orders have been confined to the area to the east of the Lake Tahoe area. However, voluntary evacuation warnings have begun to cover Christmas Valley, located on the outskirts of the Lake Tahoe Basin. A cautionary warning (shown in yellow) is issued when there is potential for an upcoming evacuation order (shown in red), which forces a mandatory evacuation and closure of the area for safety reasons. Active evacuation orders and warnings can be viewed through the El Dorado county website and Calfire as the situation evolves.