Lake Tahoe-area residents evacuating from the Caldor Fire are leaving outdoor hoses and irrigation systems on, and it’s negatively impacting the water supply, according to the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team.
The fire team reported the “alarming trend” Wednesday saying it has led to a drawdown in water supply within Lake Tahoe Public Utility Districts and water purveyors. Neighborhood water tanks are also being drawn down, and wells and water pump stations are operating at max capacity.
Leaving those water sources on could leave water supplies “dangerously low” and harm firefighting efforts if crews need access to hydrants to protect homes, according to the team, which consists of representatives from Tahoe Basin fire agencies, CAL FIRE and other state agencies.
“Firefighters apply water judiciously, where it makes a difference, and they need all the available water and water pressure during a fire,” the team said in a release.
The team also reported people asking local fire districts if they should spray down roofs and vegetation before evacuating. Fire officials said this wasn’t effective, because roofs and vegetation will dry out very quickly and the spraydown won’t protect the home itself.
Instead, people should focus on creating defensible space around their homes. This includes clearing roofs of pine needles and leaves, taking down combustible decorations, deck furniture and cushions and removing any other combustible items from outside the home, according to North Tahoe Fire Chief Steve Leighton.
As of Wednesday, Sept. 1, the Caldor Fire has scorched more than 204,000 acres across two counties and is 20% contained, according to CAL FIRE. Check current evacuation areas here.