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Lake Tahoe residents flee from Caldor Fire

Lake Tahoe residents evacuate the South Shore due to the Caldor Fire. (Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Lake Tahoe residents are fleeing the basin and the Caldor Fire which is proving to be unstoppable.

The blaze started more than two weeks ago but officials have had no answers in trying to keep it from spreading towards Lake Tahoe.

Cars are bumper to bumper eastbound on U.S. Highway 50 trying to escape as evacuation orders have been extended to cover the entire South and West shores of Tahoe in El Dorado County.



The line of cars is backed up from the “Y” to beyond Stateline heading into Nevada.

Vehicles are bumper-to-bumper on U.S. Highway 50 all the way through South Lake Tahoe to Stateline. (Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune)

A stream of cars packed with as much as they can fit are exiting the basin over Daggett and Spooner summits, on Nevada State Route 207 and U.S. Highway 50, respectively.



Westbound traffic on US 50 is being turned around at Nevada State Route 28 on the Lake Tahoe side of Spooner Summit.

Douglas County deputies are providing traffic control at Stateline while South Lake Tahoe Police Department is supplying traffic control through town.

An evacuation center has been set up in Gardnerville at the Douglas County Community & Senior Center, in Carson City at the Carson City Community Center and in Truckee for those on the West Shore.

Evacuees escaped the fire, but smoke is unhealthy outdoors at the Gardnerville shelter and ash is falling from the sky.

A steady stream of cars leave the Lake Tahoe Basin via Kingsbury Grade. (Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune)

Leelee Gilbert and her son Tadi Wright escaped the basin at about 1:30 a.m. Monday morning and set up camp at the shelter in Gardnerville.

“We used to live on Black Bart, I guess we’ll find out pretty soon if we still do,” Gilbert said.

The family brought their three dogs and cat, and a newborn baby, and have set up multiple tents in the dirt area just off the shelter’s parking lot.

“We’re not going to make our pets go into a shelter,” Gilbert said. “They are already nervous and there’s no way we can do that to them.”

South Lake Tahoe mom and son, Leelee Gilbert and Tadi Wright, established a camp for their three dogs, cat and newborn in Gardnerville. (Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune)

Gilbert has lived in South Lake Tahoe since 1991 and has been through her share of fires, including the Angora Fire in 2007, but she says the Caldor Fire is different.

“This is just a monster,” she said. “The Angore Fire was local and it was scary because our neighbors’ homes were getting annihilated, but you always had this feeling they were going to get it. You knew they had a grip. But this fire, it’s a mega fire, once they’re at 100,000 acres, I don’t know what they can do.”

The shelter is filling up and the volunteers there are scrambling. One official said they are feeling overwhelmed and understaffed.

“It’s chaos here, we don’t have enough people to help with everybody’s needs,” the official told the Tribune.

Evacuation centers are located at Truckee Veterans Hall, 10214 High Street in Truckee, at the Douglas County Community Center, 1329 Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville and at the Carson City Community Center at 851 E. William Street in Carson City.

Fuji Park in Carson City, located at 601 Old Clear Creek Road, is preparing to take in livestock and small animals.


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