Lake Tahoe fire: Tourists warned as US holiday hotspot under threat by huge wildfire

California wildfire: Homes evacuated as fire moves towards Tahoe

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Evacuation warnings on Lake Tahoe intensified to orders yesterday as the tourist resorts 22,000 residents aimed to escape a devastating fire that has raged for weeks. The Caldor Fire is bearing down on the area aided by wind and dry weather, with people now clamouring to leave. Many locals have waited in stalled traffic with their most valuable possessions as they attempt to escape.

The blaze erupted in mid-August, but according to Cal Fire, it is just 15 percent contained.

Local “gusty and erratic” winds have fanned the flames from their origin between Omo Ranch and Grizzly Flats and towards Californian traffic artery Highway 50.

So far, authorities estimate the fire has consumed 664 structures over 186,568 acres (291 square miles), including both residential and commercial properties.

And it has damaged a further 39 as it continues to spread across the state.

They have also confirmed five injuries but no deaths since the fire emerged on August 16.

Flames have not yet strayed into Lake Tahoe’s prized tourist resort on the California/Nevada border.

But the looming threat has prompted a “red flag” alert for most counties due east of Sacramento.

The latest warnings have asked people to evacuate gently from Lake Tahoe’s surrounding communities.

Evacuation warnings and orders currently cover the El Dorado, Alpine and Amador counties.

Although hundreds of cars lie gridlocked amid the rush on the streets, Lake Tahoe police have approached the task procedurally.

Travis Cabral, Lieutenant of the South Lake Tahoe police, said his force has opted for a “systemic” withdrawal.

He asked people to “please remain calm” as officers evacuated one neighbourhood at a time.

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Among those evacuating are local medical facilities such as the Barton Memorial Hospital.

Staff at the centre have extracted 36 patients requiring skilled nursing and another 16 in acute care beds since Sunday.

They have resettled in regional facilities while the threat remains.

Fire chiefs have advised people to pay attention to the increasing frequency of deadly fires stretching over 100,000 acres.

Thom Porter, Cal Fire chief and director, warned his department has “never seen” activity like this before.

In a message to California’s roughly 39 million-strong population, he said “every acre” of the state “can and will burn someday”.

Dozens of active fires currently line the California landscape, and the red flag warning suggests more could occur at any moment.

Experts believe climate events that have made the American west drier in the last 30 years mean events like this will only intensify.

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