Flames swept through treetops and drought-stricken vegetation as firefighters rushed to prevent a growing wildfire in California from reaching a resort town on the southern tip of Lake Tahoe.
They fought the blaze as evacuation orders were extended to neighboring Nevada.
Heavy smoke from the Caldor fire enveloped the town of South Lake Tahoe, which was nearly deserted during a generally bustling summer week with tourists.
The National Weather Service in the United States has warned that critical conditions throughout the day could include extremely low humidity and gusts of up to 30 mph.
âWith these winds, as he went through the forest, he created what is called an active crown fire race, where the fire actually goes from the treetops to the treetops,â Stephen said. Vollmer, Fire Behavior Analyst for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
He said embers were thrown a mile and a half in front of the fire, creating new ignition points.
The blaze was three miles from South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday afternoon, firefighters said.
A day earlier, around 22,000 residents blocked the city’s main thoroughfare for hours after being ordered to leave as the blaze continued.
South Lake Tahoe city officials said only a handful of residents defied the evacuation order. But almost everyone worries about what the fire will do next.
Tom O’Connell and his wife, Linda, awaited the fate of their home as they anchored their boat in Ventura Harbor.
The two rooms they have owned for 40 years survived the Angora fire that destroyed around 250 homes in 2007. They were unsure if they would be lucky again.
âYou worry about things over which you can have some control,â Mr. O’Connell said. “We have no control over it.”
Driven by strong winds, the Caldor fire crossed two main roads and swept down slopes in the Tahoe Basin, where firefighters working on steep terrain protected isolated cabins.
Heavy smoke periodically hampered aerial firefighting operations last week, but since then nearly two dozen helicopters and three tankers have spilled thousands of gallons of water and fire retardant firefighter spokesman Dominic Polito said.
The Lake Tahoe area is generally a year-round recreational haven offering beaches, water sports, hiking, ski resorts, and golf. South Lake Tahoe is full of outdoor activities while just across the state border in Stateline, Nevada, tourists can gamble at the major casinos.
But Tuesday, there were only a few dozen tourists left on the casino floor of the Montbleu Resort, Casino and Spa. The state gambling board said casino regulators oversee operations at the city’s four largest gambling properties.
The hotels accommodate evacuees, fire crews and other emergency personnel.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak urged residents to prepare, saying there was no timeline for when evacuations could be ordered. At a press conference in Carson City, he noted ashes were falling on him even though the blaze was about 20 miles away.
âI stand here and even get all the ash particles on my jacket,â the governor said. “It’s serious, guys.”