The entire city of South Lake Tahoe is under orders to evacuate, forcing thousands to flee as fire races toward the lake.

The new orders for people to immediately evacuate included part of the tourist city of South Lake Tahoe and about 24km up the western shore of the lake. It comes a day after communities several miles south of the lake had abruptly been ordered evacuated as the Caldor Fire raged nearby.

South Lake Tahoe’s main medical facility, Barton Memorial Hospital, proactively evacuated 36 patients needing skilled nursing and 16 in acute care beds Sunday, sending them to regional facilities far from the fire, public information officer Mindi Befu said. The rest of the hospital was evacuating following Monday’s expanded orders.

South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tamara Wallace was among those leaving ahead of an evacuation order. She and her husband are taking their dogs and items given to them from their deceased parent — objects that can’t be replaced.

Wallace did not think the Caldor Fire would come so close. Fires in the past did not spread so rapidly near the resort city of 22,000 people.

“It’s just yet another example of how wildfires have changed over the years,” she said. “It’s just a culmination of 14 to 18 more years of dead trees, the droughts we’ve had since then, those kinds of things.”

The region is facing a warning from the National Weather Service about critical fire weather Monday through Tuesday.

– AP

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