SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KTXL) — It’s been about nine months since the Caldor Fire crept its way up to the Lake Tahoe area.
“Very dark here, a lot of ash and wood falling, so it was pretty scary out here that day,” resident Tina Cullen said.
When the Caldor Fire closed in on the Lake Tahoe area last August, tens of thousands of people were told to get out.
Tina and Mike Cullen were some of the first to evacuate. It’s a night they’ll never forget.
“We didn’t get the yellow — We didn’t get the warning to be ready to evacuate it was just go,” Mike Cullen recalled.
The couple had been following the fire’s path leading up to the evacuation. Thankfully, they had been proactive years prior, creating defensible space around their home of nearly three decades, a process that gave them a different view.
“We didn’t even know there was a house behind us at all,” Tina Cullen said.
On Thursday night, at South Lake Tahoe City Hall, they were among other locals learning about the city’s hazard mitigation plan.
The plan itself is still being hammered out and involves much more than just fires, but South Lake Tahoe’s interim fire chief said the threat of fire is top of people’s minds after the Caldor Fire.
“And I think everybody is very concerned. We have a number of community partners that are putting together things like fire-wise communities and working on defensible space,” Interim Chief Jim Drennan said.
For some around there, the Caldor Fire was just the latest fire threat. Those who have lived in the same neighborhood as the Cullens for years will remember that the Angora Fire back in 2007 burned some homes and came very close.
As for the Cullens, they know there is only so much they can do to stop a fire from knocking on their door. They also want everyone else to take the threat seriously.
“I think it has opened their eyes. And I think people realize some of the homes that were lost there, and they wanna try to protect their homes as much as they can now,” Mike Cullen said.
Part of the reason the city of South Lake Tahoe is forming that hazard mitigation plan is that it sets them up to receive state and federal funds.