Evacuation center set up in Tahoe City
August 19, 2007
More than 30 evacuees sat and waited at Red Cross evacuation centers in Tahoe City early Saturday afternoon after escaping a wildfire that threatened their homes.
Two centers were set up at the Tahoe City Public Utility District and the Tahoe City Fairway Community Center.
Volunteers from the Tahoe-Truckee Disaster Action Team set up snacks, toiletries and toys for evacuees, but most were sitting in chairs waiting for news or the authorization to go home.
Volunteers said they were not sure how many evacuees would be coming throughout the evening, but most had left the centers by 8 p.m.
The evacuation center at the Fairway Community Center will be open until midnight.
“We’re kind of biding our time, and hoping we can just go back,” said Bay Area resident Terry Costello earlier this afternoon at the Tahoe City Public Utility District center. Costello was renting a home on Spruce Street, two blocks from the source of the fire.
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Costello and his family we’re stopped at the Tahoe City wye en route to their residence. Road closures prevented their ability to gather any necessities from home.
Talmont resident Joyce Sowers, an elderly woman who lives alone, said she was enjoying the morning with no knowledge of any fire.
“There wasn’t a thing in the sky,” Sowers said. “No smoke, nothing.”
When the electricity cut out, Sowers said she walked out to the street to see if anything happened, but the street was already deserted.
With her walker in hand, Sowers wandered down the street until a Placer County Sheriff’s deputy drove up the road. The two then packed Sowers’ things and she was taken to the evacuation center.
Sunnyside resident Rick Cassinelli said he first saw smoke while riding his bike back to his home on Edelweiss, which is located behind the Catholic church.
“I said, ‘Oh my god, that’s just about the same area where we live,'” he said.
Riding up his street, Cassinelli said a chill ran down his spine when he saw a “huge orange cloud dancing through the trees.”
By the time he reached his home, his wife had their SUV packed with their things and ready to go. Cassinelli said his wife wrote down a list of valuable belongings after the Angora fire.
“Thank god for my wife,” Cassinelli said. “She had everything done.”
Just five minutes later, a sheriff’s deputy drove down Edelweiss announcing the evacuation order over a loudspeaker.
Cassinelli said officers were also knocking on doors, and a California Highway Patrol unit drove down the street moments afterward, announcing the final order to leave the area.
“These are the things that you always read about and you always say ‘that’s not going to happen to us,'” Cassinelli said at the evacuation shelter.