Tahoe firefighters share lessons from Caldor Fire in new video

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – As the community celebrates 100% containment of the Caldor Fire, firefighters are sharing lessons learned from the fight to protect neighborhoods in Christmas Valley, Meyers, and South Lake Tahoe in a new bilingual video and a special issue of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Tahoe In Depth newspaper.

Firefighters from the Lake Valley Fire Protection District, South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue and other local, state and federal firefighting agencies noted that in the months and weeks prior to the fire, residents took important steps that helped save their homes, such as moving firewood away from homes, cleaning up pine needles, and preparing for a potential evacuation.

“It was inspiring to see that residents did what they could to help us help them. It really made a difference,” said Kim George, a fire captain with South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue, in a press release.

In the new video, George and Martin Goldberg, an engineer with Lake Valley Fire, share three key steps that residents can accomplish to help firefighters increase the odds of protecting homes at Lake Tahoe, including:

Maintain defensible space: Clear the first zero to 5 feet of your home of wood mulch, pine needles, twigs, and other flammable vegetation. Keep the next 5 to 30 feet lean, clean, and green by removing dead and dying vegetation, spacing trees and shrubs, and keeping plants well irrigated. Maintain a reduced fuel zone of 30 to 100-plus feet by thinning dense stands of trees and shrubs and removing dead plant material, low-hanging tree branches, and other ladder fuels.

Harden your home against embers: Reduce your home’s vulnerability to wildfire embers by clearing pine needles and debris from gutters, roofs, and decks. Place one-eighth inch metal mesh screens over vents, and install ignition-resistant roofing, non-combustible siding, and enclosed eaves.

Stay prepared and stay informed: Be prepared for an evacuation by registering for your and neighboring counties’ emergency alert systems, packing an evacuation go-bag in advance, and making an evacuation plan with your family, friends, and neighbors.

In addition to the video, Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team partners contributed to a special Caldor Fire issue of the environmental newspaper, Tahoe In Depth, to capture the events of the fire and to describe the critical role of forest fuel reduction — including forest thinning and the use of prescribed fire — and wildfire preparedness now and into the future.

“Prolonged droughts and extreme wildfires have become a fact of life in the Sierra Nevada. We just lived through it with the Caldor Fire, and we can improve our odds of withstanding the next wildfire,” George said.

Learn more about how to prepare for wildfire at

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