Episode 9 - Chief Clive Savacool on the Caldor Fire Evacuation

February 4th, 2022

On August 3, 2021 the City of South Lake Tahoe’s city council approved their new wildfire evacuation plan. Clive Savacool, Fire Chief with South Lake Tahoe Fire and Rescue, led the effort to draft the new plan, not knowing that it would be put into action for real a few weeks later when the Caldor Fire would threaten South Lake Tahoe.

On Episode 9 of the Living With Fire Podcast, Chief Savacool talks about writing and executing the evacuation plan. "When I was putting it together with help from others, I honestly never envisioned putting it into play on my own, during my career," Savacool explains.

But, on August 30, 2021 at 10:59 am, the very active Caldor Fire was spreading toward South Lake Tahoe. As a result, agencies began evacuating people. About 22,000 people were issued evacuation orders and told to leave their homes.

Later that night, the Caldor Fire crossed Echo Summit and entered Christmas Valley, a secluded community about 10 miles away from South Lake Tahoe. Amanda Milici, the Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities coordinator, lives in Christmas Valley. Milici described how she and her partner were evacuated twice, first, to her partners' parents' home in South Lake Tahoe, where they were required to evacuate again, less than 24 hours later.

"We kind of thought we would at least have a couple days there, you know? We had no idea how fast the fire was moving, and then the next morning, probably just like 12 hours later, we evacuated from the city." Milici explains.

The Caldor Fire evacuation was a massive operation. Chief Savacool described some of the challenges involved in such an effort and how agencies in Tahoe worked together to make it happen. “We all recognize that we can't handle a major incident our own and we recognize that the community is what matters. And so we have to make sure we're doing right by them versus our own interests,” said Savacool.

Funding for this podcast was provided by the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act of 1994 in cooperation with the Tahoe RCD & University of Nevada, Reno Extension, an EEO/AA Institution.

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