Ash and smoke from the Caldor Fire covered South Lake Tahoe, California, and severely impacted its residents. 

In a conversation with AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell, South Lake Tahoe resident John Larson shared that the incident was just a matter of time. He said that when he arrived in the area 35 years ago, he knew “something like this was going to happen,” adding, “You take a walkout up Taylor Creek, and there’s so much fuel, it’s scary.”

Like the Angora Fire in 2007 that quickly spread throughout the region. Larson stated that he couldn’t help but wonder if another fire was accidentally started by a tourist with every siren and ambulance that surfaced. Yet, there was some peace during his 35 years spent in South Lake Tahoe, and having witnessed some of the area’s worst fires, he was never forced to be evacuated, even during the Angora Fire. 

On Labor Day, Lake Tahoe’s waters hit the city’s empty beaches, not a usual sight for the holiday weekend. A mandatory evacuation order was announced by authorities only in late August as the Caldor Fire approached South Lake Tahoe. But instead of sitting by the beach on holiday, several locals, including John Larson, had to set up shelters for evacuees. 

The Caldor Fire has burned more than 217,000 acres across California and has wrecked at least 994 buildings, according to information from CalFire. It’s only one of the 7,000 fires that have blazed through the state, yet only 50% of it has been contained. 

While the compulsory evacuation order issued for part of South Lake Tahoe had been reduced to evacuation warnings just before Labor Day, many people didn’t feel safe going back home. They feared a health threat due to the poor health quality or that the blaze would still pose a threat.