The Caldor Fire is 11% contained and is threatening Lake Tahoe. The Caldor Fire is about 126,000 acres and is smaller than the Dixie Fire (734,000 acres).
The Caldor Fire is the number one priority with over 2,100 firefighters, 22 helicopters, 50 fire crews and 200 fire trucks.
Winds have shifted and are pushing the Caldor Fire toward Tahoe.
Smoke from the #CaldorFire is creating "hazardous" air quality in #ElDoradoCounty, specifically around South Lake Tahoe. Limit outdoor physical activity and stay indoors if possible. Check https://t.co/8ZJRfglE9o for the latest air quality in your area. pic.twitter.com/tvQdGZrBzJ
— Cal OES (@Cal_OES) August 24, 2021
The Tahoe Basin has total population of 65,000 and approximately 3 million visitors each year.
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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26 thoughts on “Caldor Fire Threatens Lake Tahoe”
Frequent small fires DO remove fuel, before it accumulates enough for big fires. The problem today is the combination of inevitably incomplete fire suppression and barring removal of fuel, so that it keeps piling up until the eventual big fire.
You are the one saying the same thing over and over and not reasoning. I am familiar with that theory. However, that fails to explain why fires in California have gotten vastly worse with far more burning. If your theory is correct, then California must have been clear-cut and/or they must have been removing all the undergrowth in the past. But that is not the case. There are astronomical acres that would have to have been cleared regularly in the past. It never happened. No one gave California a manicure in the past. We never spent the billions and billions it would have cost to clear the undergrowth.
17 out of 20 of the largest fires in California history have happened since 2003, and all of the top 8 have happened since 2017.
Why the sudden and dramatic change?
Take a look at the stats on wildfires
"As many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by people, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. Some human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, downed power lines, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10 percent are started by lightning or lava."
Well it was a nice day here yesterday as well. All good I guess!
'Listen' to me very carefully: You can either suppress fires while removing fuel so that it doesn't accumulate to dangerous levels, or skip fire suppression, and accept frequent small scale fires. Either one works.
But if you suppress fires AND leave fuel to accumulate, eventually you get hugely destructive fires when the fire suppression inevitably fails.
So you are saying they did it different in California in the past? Hogwash.
California was not clear-cut. And no one was out in the millions of square acres clearing brush.
Clearly something has changed.
And I know for a fact that the climate where I live is very different from when I was a kid.
We've had a wetter and cooler than normal year in my neck of the woods. If this is the result of climate change then sign me up for more 😉
I do take this seriously but on the other hand . . .
Given that almost the entire eastern side of Lake Tahoe (at least the top three quarters of it) were part of the Ponderosa Ranch, which extended east almost to Carson City and halfway to Reno, it looks like the Cartwrights could be in trouble.
These ecosystems actually do depend on occasional fires, the real key is reducing the fuel load to the point where the inevitable fires don't sterilize the area.
You can either remove the fuel, or let it burn occasionally, but doing neither is just setting things up for the eventual fire being horrific.
Dry stuff tends to burn, and when you don't let it burn when there is only a little of it around, and don't let people remove it, either, you eventually get really big, destructive fires, unless you're in a wet climate. (In which case, I guess the stuff isn't "dry".)
You can manage the fuel load yourself, or let little fires keep it in check, but if you permit people to do neither, you're setting yourself up for a humdinger of a fire. That's the actual problem in California, not global warming: Terrible forest management.
There's a certain appeal, and connection to the land, watching it grow up from a desolate wasteland into a verdant forest, and maybe helping in the process.. Seeing seedlings you planted yourself become mighty trees, being familiar with every little rock on a plot of land.
Problem is, you only get to enjoy that sort of thing once in a normal human lifespan, it takes so long.
Grass within a year. Shrubs a year after that. Then bushes. Then a year of drought, and another fire. Welcome to California.
That is the problem. You will see that every day. It will take decades for new trees to grow.
Come on in, the water's warm!
Good chance for photography right? You don't get to see that every day.
You can go on a walk through the forest every day without it in your back yard. The nature trail will be even better than anything you set up yourself anyway.
Well, except when it's regrowing after a fire.
If you also built all the houses around you with similar materials, and built in a dense colony without wooded yards (imagine an old European mountain village), the neighborhood would serve as a firebreak. Only the houses on the edge would need to use the sprinklers.
By the way, even with all of the above, I'd still evacuate the area for awhile. Just because of the air.
I'm scheduled to goto lake Tahoe in 2 weeks. It looks like my plans will need to change.
What is the point of living in a forest, if you aren't.
I guess, if you are only interested in skiing…and don't give a rip about trees?
Drought tends to dry stuff. Dry stuff tends to burn.
The whole Northwest US is having issues with fires. Currently Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon and Northern California, and even Canada are burning.
Why do you have to play politics? Blame the victim stuff.
The reality is that we need to get more water on the trees, and waste less with agriculture. We need more drip irrigation, and plastic sheets to hold in moisture. And we need faster acting and more effective means of fighting fires.
And we need to address global warming. At the very least, knock out 75% of the methane emissions, natural and man-made.
The measures he suggests are entirely adequate so long as you clear the area immediately around your home of fuel, and possibly have a non-flammable berm in key locations. Control of fuel is key, you want the actual flames to be reasonably distant from your home.
The sad thing is that even if you save your home when the fire comes, you are no longer surrounded by lovely forest…just ash and stubs that used to be trees.
You are kidding yourself. The measures you suggest would fail against a raging forest fire.
Concrete does not stand up to fire, ordinary steel does not stand up to fire (it will deform and it will conduct and radiate heat), and neither does glass.
Build underground. Anything at the surface should be chosen to be easily and cheaply replaceable. And if you are going to stay, have some backup oxygen (a fire can consume most of the oxygen in the air near a fire.
It is possible to build a house at ground level that will take the heat. It will cost though. You need refractory concrete and refractory brick, both walls and roof. And you need window inserts that are cut to size made of something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Manufacturing-Kaowool-Insulation-Fireproof/dp/B07ZQPC43B
Ideally, put on both sides of the windows, and doors. Avoid having any large windows, as those would be nearly impossible to cover well. It might be okay if the big windows are on the inside of an enclosed courtyard, as there should be much less radiant heat, as the outside of the building should be shielding the courtyard. Bit of a gamble, but probably okay as long as there is very little to burn in the courtyard.
A worthy try for an existing home would be to make some walls of that fireproof insulation say 20 feet high all around your home. Not cheap. But compared to losing a house? Even if that was tried, you probably still need a fire resistant roof. Or cover it too.
This is only going to get worse as our climate changes. Better get used to it.
Wildfire is a natural part of the lake Tahoe biome. You can tell because lodgepole pines are so common. The fires should be allowed to burn, otherwise the ecology is disturbed. Stopping wildfires in areas where down wood does not quickly rot merely builds up fuel, until there is a fire that can not be put out.
If I lived in such a place, my home would be built of steel, glass, concrete, and ceramics. The only flammable material would be the furnishings. There would be water sprinklers on the roof to keep it from getting too hot. HVAC would be by ground source heat pump. Electrical backup would be PV, and some battery technology or another. A swimming pool would be the first choice for sprinkler water.
In case of a fire, steel shutters would be closed over the windows, batteries would be fully charged before the grid was lost, and sprinklers would come on until grid loss. If the ambient temperature exceeded the annual maximum, sprinklers would be turned on for 15 minutes, or until temperature fell below set point.
Taking these precautions is no different from special building codes in hurricane, or earthquake prone areas. You have to plan for disaster, then it won't be a disaster, just an inconvenience, at least for you.
Steel roofs are actually pretty cheap, unless you go standing seam, or have a lot of gables.
I was in Utah hiking a couple weeks ago, and I can tell you that, depending on wind direction, visibility ranged from excellent to horrible. It was a real revelation driving back to LV the sort of scenery we'd passed on the way in without having seen. If the smoke had been that bad when we visited the North rim, we'd never have seen the other side.
These fires in California are having serious air quality impacts over the entire Western US, California's terrible fire management is starting to have national implications.
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