Evacuees flood valley
GENOA — As scores of Kingsbury Grade evacuees channeled down the mountain, countless others hoping to head up were stopped Wednesday afternoon at the intersection of Highway 207 and Foothill Road watching a Sierra wildfire that was threatening hundreds of homes.
“I can’t believe how windy it is, of all days,” said resident Belva Rasmussen, her brow furrowed, hands tightly clasped.
Rasmussen, who owns a home off Kingsbury, was accompanied by her 11-year-old granddaughter Kassie Fulton, nervously waiting for a sign of her two other grandchildren who were each driving a car full of paintings Rasmussen had taken from her home.
She didn’t wait for someone to tell her to evacuate.
“We just left,” she said.
Jason Smoker, a junior at Auburn University visiting Lake Tahoe for the summer, also awaited his three friends who live off Tramway Drive near the summit of Kingsbury Grade.
Smoker said he left his place to go into South Lake Tahoe for something to eat and when he tried to get back home, he was stopped by police.
“I just called my friends and told them to bring me some clothes down,” he said.
He said during the call, the three were loading their things into a compact car.
Robin DeSota, returning to his home on Kingsbury Grade after a few days in the Bay area, was surprised by the Douglas County officer who stopped him from heading up the eight miles to the summit.
“I asked if the road was blocked for residents too and he said, ‘You may not have a home to go to,” DeSota said.
Cindy and Gerald Hifner, of Sacramento, were vacationing at The Ridge Tahoe with their baby when officers began evacuating the lower of its 300 condominiums.
The couple said they saw smoke and noticed how close it was to the Heavenly Gondola that runs from Stateline, 2.4 miles up the mountain to nearly 2,800 feet about the lake.
For the sake of their child, the couple decided to evacuate.
“We can always drive back to Sacramento,” Gerald said.
Craig Izner, a junior at the University of Alabama, said he was on the mountain behind Caeser’s Tahoe when the fire took off.
“I actually saw treetops burning and falling, and the fire jumping from tree to tree,” he said. “Then a cop came and said, ‘You have to evacuate. Get off the mountain.'”