Thousands of evacuees in California tourist area

Thousands of people were ordered to evacuate Monday the south shore of Lake Tahoe, California, a very touristy area threatened by the approach of a fire that has devastated the region for more than two weeks.

Called Caldor Fire, the forest fire has already traveled more than 700 km2, destroying several hundred buildings and emitting thick smoke that polluted northern California.

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Thanks to an extreme drought and sustained winds, the flames continued on Monday to progress towards South Lake Tahoe, a tourist town located on the shores of the largest alpine lake in North America, on the border with Nevada.




AFP

“The conditions and the fuels are historic,” Fire Commander Jeff Veik told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We are going to put out this fire. But it won’t be today, ”he said.

The Caldor Fire is just one of dozens of blazes ravaging the chronic drought-stricken western United States further exacerbated by the effects of climate change. More than 7,000 km2 of vegetation have already burned, more than double the average area at this time of year.

Tens of thousands of residents had to flee the flames, often without knowing when they could return or even if they were to find their homes intact.




AFP

“There was a knock on the door last night around 10 pm to warn me to get ready,” South Lake Tahoe resident Corinne Kobel told the Sacramento Bee newspaper. “And this morning at 10 am, it was the police who came to tell us to leave. I’m freaking out, ”she adds.

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In total, some 22,000 people were ordered to evacuate to the area on Monday morning.

An AFP reporter saw an endless line of vehicles attempting to leave South Lake Tahoe, idling, bumper to bumper.

Among these motorists was Mel Smothers, 74, who patiently took his troubles by playing the violin near his car. He has lived in Tahoe since the 1970s but had never been driven from his home by flames until now.




AFP

With these recent fires, Lake Tahoe has changed. It’s going to be like that every year from now on, “laments the septuagenarian interviewed by AFP.

Sunday, the fire had roamed the slopes of Twin Bridges, where skiers usually indulge in the joys of winter sports. Snow cannons were used in an attempt to moisten the terrain and thus keep the flames at bay.

California Fire Chief Thom Porter said the blaze had grown nearly 80 km2 overnight as the cloud cover cleared. “When the air comes out, it removes the lid on your pot of boiling water,” which feels like a draft, he told the Sacramento Bee.

“It’s the same with a fire,” he explained.

Further north, the gigantic Dixie Fire continued to expand, having engulfed more than 3,000 km2 since his departure, six weeks ago.




AFP

Monday morning, in California alone, more than 15,000 firefighters were fighting on the ground against about fifteen large-scale forest fires.

Their number and intensity have multiplied in recent years in the western United States, with a marked lengthening of the fire season.

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According to experts, this phenomenon is particularly linked to global warming: the increase in temperature, the increase in heat waves and the drop in precipitation in places form an ideal incendiary cocktail.

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