In California, fire season has progressively become longer over the years, and the fires themselves have become more difficult for firefighters to extinguish. With a continual drought, the trees and brush are incredibly going up like powder kegs.
This season, California has seen multiple horrific fires, many still burning their way through the state, with one threatening a beloved state treasure and popular vacation destination, Lake Tahoe.
Firefighters are doing the best they can to battle the flames amid steep terrain and fast-moving embers to get the Caldor Fire under control while saving the homes and ski resorts of Lake Tahoe.
Currently, 4,662 firefighters are fighting the blaze and have been for the better part of three weeks as it races northward toward Lake Tahoe. Firefighters know that the best defense is a good offense, especially regarding these fire conditions.
So far, the massive wildfire has burned 214,112 acres decimating 920 homes and buildings. The El Dorado County town Grizzly Flats was destroyed as the flames blew through it. Thankfully, there have been zero casualties.
Cal Fire Assistant Deputy Director Daniel Berlant said, “Our strategy has absolutely had to change under these conditions. Just the fact that we keep talking about the new normal or that these conditions are unprecedented- we’ve been saying that for five years. The precedent is here. How we adapt to it must be in our strategy.”
Currently, the fire is about 43% contained. Wildfires are often fought from the front, but if the conditions are unpredictable, it can be the most dangerous place. Fire behavior expert Cal Fire Assistant Chief Brian Newman is assisting with strategy creation.
“We definitely can’t take a flaming front in a timber crown head-on.We have to adjust and go after the flanks, the edges.”Cal Fire Assistant Chief Brian Newman
Firefighters are working ahead of the flames to clear defensive space around homes in hopes of saving them. In addition, infrared-capable helicopters are doing water drops at night for the first time in any Northern California fire to get the upper hand on the flames.
The ingenuity doesn’t stop there, though. Many ski resorts have snow-making cannons for use during ski season, cannons that are now being used to keep the ground and buildings wet as the flames head in their direction, successfully keeping them safe.