VAIL, Colo. (KDVR) — Multiple fire departments in Colorado are sending crews to help battle the Caldor fire and other wildfires tearing through California.
The Caldor fire forced evacuations in South Lake Tahoe this week. The popular tourist town would normally be gearing up for a busy holiday weekend ahead of Labor Day.
“The biggest problem they’re reporting is long-range spotting where they have embers landing up to a mile in front of the fire and starting new fires. He said it’s been pretty active for a few days,” Vail Fire Chief Mark Novak said.
Vail Fire and Emergency Services has one team member working as a task force leader on the Caldor Fire, leading a team of engines along the fire line.
West Metro Fire Rescue had a crew helping fight the fire last week. The Denver Fire Department also has a team helping with communications.
That is spread so far, and so fast, is ‘mind-boggling’
Novak has a personal tie to the area, having lived and worked nearby for nearly 25 years before coming to Colorado.
“We have a lot of friends and family back there as well, and they’re all evacuated. It’s really kind of mind-boggling — not so much just it’s a big fire but to think about how far it spread so fast,” Novak said.
The fire covered more than 191,000 acres Tuesday night. Novak says his former neighborhood is under the evacuation order. Based on recent maps, he says it appears to be surrounded by fire.
“We’ve moved, but there’s obviously still those memories. My kids still say, ‘Hey, maybe we could buy that house again someday,’ and that kind of thing,” Novak said.
Novak said the situation in California should serve as a wake-up call for Coloradans after a brutal wildfire season in 2020.
“Even if we thought those fires were bad — they were really bad — but it could be much worse,” Novak said. “We have a very narrow window of opportunity to prepare our communities for those really bad days.”