An evacuation order was issued in the popular tourist destination of South Lake Tahoe in California, as the Caldor wildfire approached the city.
Thousands of people were forced to leave the resort town, as the wildfire moved towards the large, straddling freshwater lake California and Nevada.
The officials had issued evacuation warnings for the city of 20,000 but on Monday, they change it to an evacuation order – with people scrambling to get out of town.
“This is a systematic evacuation, one neighborhood at a time,” said South Lake Tahoe Police Lt. Travis Cabral.
“I ask you, as a community, to remain calm. “
The new orders come a day after communities several miles south of the lake were ordered to evacuate as the Caldor fire raged nearby.
South Lake Tahoe’s main medical facility, Barton Memorial Hospital, evacuated 36 patients in need of skilled nursing and 16 in acute care beds on Sunday, sending them to regional facilities, Public Information Officer Mindi said. Befu.
The rest of the hospital was evacuating following Monday’s expanded orders.
The entire Lake Tahoe region in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is a hotspot for residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as a national destination.
The area offers beaches, water sports, hiking, ski resorts and golf.
South Lake Tahoe, at the south end of the lake, offers plenty of outdoor activities, with casinos available on the Stateline, Nevada border.
South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tamara Wallace has prepared to leave with her husband, youngest child, dogs and items given to them by their deceased relative – items that cannot be replaced.
“It’s just another example of how wildfires have changed over the years,” she said.
“It’s just the culmination of another 14 to 18 years of dead trees, the droughts we’ve had since, that sort of thing.”
The region faces a National Weather Service warning of critical weather conditions for the fires until Tuesday.
The fire destroyed several homes on Sunday along Highway 50, one of the main roads leading to the southern end of the lake.
It also affected the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort, destroying some buildings but leaving the main structures intact.
Dry fuel and upwelling winds helped stoke the fire on nearly 10,000 additional acres on Sunday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The blaze, which spread over 177,260 acres (71,740 hectares), is 14 percent under control.
Hotel owner Neil Panchal and his family were up until about 3 a.m. so they could leave their South Lake Tahoe home in El Dorado on Monday morning for Nevada.
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“We’ve been here for so long and we’ve never seen anything like it. The children were crying,” said Mr Panchal, 42.
“First COVID, and now that on top of that.”
California, which has typically seen its peak fire season in late summer and fall, is already poised to see more of its landscape ignite this year than it did last year. , the worst year on record.