Residents and tourists in the popular Lake Tahoe communities were rushing to leave the area as the Caldor fire approaches the region after sweeping dry forests in California’s summer.
Dry foliage and uphill winds in the canyons have helped fuel the fire that has spread over 4,000 hectares since Sunday, according to the California Department of Forests and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). Only 14% of the fire that spread over 71,000 hectares was contained.
Emergency evacuation decrees have been issued for several areas, including a portion of El Dorado County, south of Lake Tahoe. The lake borders the State of Nevada, and is a region loved by tourists for swimming, hiking and camping.
“There is fire activity in California that we’ve never seen before,” Cal Fire boss Thom Porter said in a statement on Monday. He said fires are destroying homes and vegetation on both sides of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Hotel owner Neil Panchal and his family stayed up until 3 am packing clothes, food and medicine to leave their home in South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County this Monday morning for Nevada.
“We’ve been here for so long, and we’ve never seen anything like it. The kids were crying,” Panchal, 42, told Reuters as he, his wife, his two children and in-laws prepared to drive through the smoke he said it was already affecting his throat.