A caravan of cars streaming out of a city to escape some apocalyptic event may seem dramatic, but for millions of Californians, this has become their reality in the past few weeks. The forests around Lake Tahoe was the latest to go up in flames in what is now the largest wildfire in California history, and to many, it sends a harrowing message of just how inhabitable the Golden State had become.
Lake Tahoe is the largest freshwater alpine lake in North America, sitting at the border between California and Nevada. The lake is a world famous ski destination known for its powdery slopes. The myriad of outdoor activity options available, combined with the convenient location to a nearby casino, Reno, made Lake Tahoe a popular vacation destination for many people in California.
For college students, Lake Tahoe is a perfect getaway location with friends during winter vacation. A group of friends would often rent an entire vacation house along the lake and then split the cost. The vacation houses around the area were decked out for such purposes. Outdoor jacuzzi hot tubs, spacious indoor recreation rooms, six-car garages, and extra large sun decks were just the “basic” amenities. Houses would often come with waxing benches for ski and snowboards, and even closets specially made to store ski gears. Some of the best vacation stories I have all came from times when I stayed there with my friends!
I was just as shocked as many viewers on TV when images of a smoke filled Reno City flashed on the evening news, followed by the footage of people fleeing from the wildfire in their cars. The dense evergreen forest surrounding the lake had gone up in flames, all the more unbelievable because in my mind, the place was always a cold, frozen landscape blanketed with white snow.
The entire west coast of the United States was pretty much burning in 2021. Many fires started in surprising locations that shouldn’t have been dry or hot enough to burn. What this says is that the effects of global warming may be coming sooner than we expected. The message may be old and tired now, but if we don’t want to lose places like Lake Tahoe to wildfires, then we need to act more responsibly towards our environment.