Friday, June 14, 2024

Calif. Fire Gets Uncomfortably Close to Billionaires’ Vacation Homes

"Today, this has already moved at 2.5 miles on us, with no sign that it’s starting to slow down..."

(Headline USA) With his recall election only two weeks away, California‘s Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom may be feeling the heat even more due to the state’s scourge of out-of-control forest fires.

The fires—which arguably are the fault of environmentalist regulations that prevent the clearing of dead trees and brush—have gotten dangerously close to the high-income houses on Lake Tahoe where many Silicon Valley technocrats, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, maintain multi-million-dollar estates.

People were told to flee from a long section of the lake’s southern shoreline Monday as a huge conflagration threatened to push into the resort region straddling California and Nevada.

The new orders for people to immediately evacuate included part of the tourist city of South Lake Tahoe and about 15 miles up the western shore of the lake. It comes a day after communities several miles south of the lake had abruptly been ordered evacuated as the Caldor Fire raged nearby.

The fire is less than 30 miles from where Zuckerberg holds court at his Carousel Estate on the California side of the lake. It is a similar distance from Incline Village, Nevada, the playground for billionaire oligarchs including Warren Buffett and Oracle’s Larry Ellison.

On its way up, the fire might also wreak havoc on Glenbrook, Nevada, which is ranked the 35th priciest ZIP code in the country.

“To put it in perspective, we’ve been seeing about a half-mile of movement on the fire’s perimeter each day for the last couple of weeks, and today, this has already moved at 2.5 miles on us, with no sign that it’s starting to slow down,” said Erich Schwab, division chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

At such a pace, it could reach the wealthier parts of the lake in about 10 or 11 days, just as Newsom is desperately trying to raise funds from his wealthy benefactors in a last-ditch effort to stave off defeat.

South Lake Tahoe’s main medical facility, Barton Memorial Hospital, proactively evacuated 36 patients needing skilled nursing and 16 in acute care beds Sunday, sending them to regional facilities far from the fire, public information officer Mindi Befu said. The rest of the hospital was evacuating following Monday’s expanded orders.

The region is facing a warning from the National Weather Service about critical fire weather Monday through Tuesday across the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade Range.

The fire destroyed multiple homes Sunday along Highway 50, one of the main routes to the south end of the lake. The fire also roared through the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort, destroying some buildings but leaving the main buildings at the base intact.

“Today’s been a rough day, and there’s no bones about it,” Jeff Marsolais, forest supervisor for El Dorado National Forest, said Sunday. A few days ago, he had thought crews could halt the Caldor Fire’s eastern progress, but “it let loose.”

Flames churned through mountains just a few miles southwest of the Tahoe Basin, where thick smoke sent tourists packing at a time when summer vacations would usually be in full swing ahead of the Labor Day weekend.

The Caldor Fire has scorched nearly 277 square miles since breaking out Aug. 14. After the weekend’s fierce burning, containment dropped from 19% to 14%. More than 600 structures have been destroyed, and at least 20,000 more were threatened.

Meanwhile, California’s Dixie Fire, the second-largest in state history at 1,205 square miles (3,121 square kilometers), was nearly halfway contained about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of the fire near Lake Tahoe. Nearly 700 homes were among almost 1,300 buildings that have been destroyed since the Dixie Fire began in early July.

They are among nearly 90 large blazes in the U.S. Many are in the West, burning trees and brush sucked dry by drought, which has been exacerbated by the poor planning of Democrat officials who overextended their reservoir usage.

In California alone, more than a dozen large fires are being fought by more than 15,200 firefighters. Flames have destroyed about 2,000 buildings and forced thousands to evacuate this year while blanketing large swaths of the West in unhealthy smoke.

The U.S. Department of Defense is sending 200 Army soldiers from Washington state to help firefighters in Northern California, the U.S. Army North said in a statement Saturday. Eight Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-130 aircraft capable of dropping thousands of gallons of fire retardant also have been sent to fight wildfires in the West.

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