Fake Snow Defeats Ferocious Fire


Courtesy of Blake Startsev. Sunset over smoky hills in Tahoe.

Jake Shklovski, Staff Writer

As the Caldor Fire roared through South Lake Tahoe and many ski areas like the Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort, it caused a lot of devastation. Ski resorts like Heavenly and Sierra Tahoe used their snow guns, a machine that produces fake snow in the winter, to help put out the fire and keep the air and ground moist. Now that the fire has heavily died down and many evacuees are moving back home, what is the aftermath of the whole situation?
Now that the fire is well contained, the firefighters have been making great progress despite the bad wind conditions and inconvenience of evacuees returning home.. One way the firefighters have been preventing the spread of wildfires is by turning on the snow guns to create a mist in the air that wards off stray sparks that could start another fire. According to ABC News, the group of firefighters from the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department pointed the snow guns close to the Heavenly Ski Resort ridge line because the fire would most likely come from the south, where the ridge faces.
As of September 20, 2021 the fire is 71% contained and is very quickly being eradicated, so many South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado residents are moving back home. According to California News Times, “Approximately 6,000 residents living on the eastern side of the fire near Omoranchi and Fairplay received a green light to return home, including all residents of South Lake Tahoe and those living 25 miles west of Lake Tahoe.”
Although many residents are moving back to their homes, some don’t have any homes to move back to. Around 5,800 buildings and 218,876 acres of land were destroyed in the fire. Additionally, several trail systems for biking, hiking and horse riding are gone and all national forest land was closed for recreational use. Some residents were lucky, though lots of houses were completely burned down. According to The Sacramento Bee, “Paul and Bertie Leathers of Woodland took the opportunity to visit their family cabin in the 47-Mile Tract along Highway 50. Nearby homes had burned, but the cabin was untouched.” As some may be lucky though lots of houses were completely burned down leaving many stranded.
Tahoe local Blake Startsav said, “Many highways, schools and outdoor activities were closed and we had to stay home because the air quality got higher than 400 one day.” Startsev also talked about how he could not even open a window because the air quality was so bad. He also said that the weather majorly affected the farm animals and plants. According to the EPA, or United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Air pollutants have a negative impact on plant growth, primarily through interfering with resource accumulation.” The smokey air messes with the plant’s carbon intake and all the other burned nasty chemicals in the sky weaken its photosynthesis. The EPA also said, “Air pollutants that are first deposited on the soil, such as heavy metals, first affect the functioning of roots and interfere with soil resource capture by the plant.“
Everybody in Tahoe was affected by the fire including everybody up north.
Blake also talked about the closing of highways and bike trails in the whole Tahoe are preventing travel and any recreational outdoor activities. He said ”The damage in the trail systems sucked because roads going up the mountains where closed and destroyed and several hiking and biking trails become overgrown with weeds which can survive in the bad air quality.” Not only did the damage affect north Tahoe it also affected farms in the Tahoe-Nevada area which are used for mass farming lands.
Although the Caldor fire has mostly died down,the destruction it caused was catastrophic. The Tahoe Daily Tribune said that many trails that people loved, whether it be mountain biking, horse riding, or hiking trails, burned down even though the fire did not reach the community homes. Even the ones that didn’t get scorched were bulldozed down because of the fire hazard. A large trail called Tahoe Rim Trail had several huge chunks that were destroyed and heavily damaged. You can donate and volunteer to many trail building groups like the Tahoe Rim Trail Association. Also, organizations like the Tahoe Daily Tribune are great donating sites for the reconstruction of South Lake Tahoe.