LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Crews from Southern Nevada are headed north to help battle a wildfire approaching South Lake Tahoe, Calif. They will join nearly 3,500 other firefighters from across the country to battle the blaze.
The Caldor fire has burned for 15 days, scorching more than 200,000 acres, and forcing thousands to leave their homes. As of Wednesday evening, the fire was just 20 percent contained.
Capt. David Carroway from the North Las Vegas Fire Department is among those on the front lines. He and his team arrived Tuesday. Carroway said the smoke is so thick crews can’t see around them.
“When you walk outside you really want to clear your throat because you can feel that ash and smoke all around you,” said Carroway. “It creates almost like a tingling sensation right at the top of your chest where the lungs are.”
Members of the Clark County Fire Department are also there. They are picking up the duties that the fire departments nearest the wildfire would usually handle, such as medical calls or structure fires. They have said they are willing to battle the Caldor fire if called.
“For us to be able to come into their stations and provide them a little bit of break to get their lives back in order to reset and engaged again to go out into the wildfire its an amazing experience for us,” said Clark County Fire Battalion Chief Kenny Holding.
“The fires just to the south of us and could be threatening the homes around here the next 24 hours,” said Holding. “We are on high alert right now”
Units from Southern Nevada are expected to be at the Caldor Fire for at least two weeks, but that could change.
Officials say they lucked out with favorable weather conditions that kept the Caldor Fire out of the city of South Lake Tahoe. But they also say the tourist hot spot of 22,000 residents on the southern end of the lake remains in danger.
A Cal Fire spokesman says crews are working to keep flames out of urban communities, where homes set close together would provide even more fuel. The South Tahoe Public Utility District pleaded with residents to turn off hoses and irrigation systems to save water for firefighters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.