Lake Tahoe Casinos Reopen As Firefighters Work to Corral Blaze

By | September 14, 2021

The major casinos at Lake Tahoe’s South Shore have reopened, as the massive Caldor Fire has slowed its blistering march toward the alpine resort destination, officials said.

Caldor Fire firefighters
A firefighter heads down a wooded slope while batting California’s massive Caldor Fire. The fire scorched several counties southwest of Lake Tahoe. (Image: Sacramento Bee)

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Stateline, Nevada, has reopened its gaming floor and guest rooms to the public, the resort’s website states. The four major hotel-casinos at the southern end of the high-altitude lake have been closed to all but emergency personnel in recent weeks during a mandatory evacuation in the area. The evacuation orders have been lifted or downgraded for many Tahoe residents. 

For much of late August and into September, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino served as a command center for firefighters and has housed fire crews.  

“We can’t thank our heroes enough for all their hard work over the past few weeks,” the website states. “It’s thanks to them that we are able to open our doors!”

Lake Tahoe straddles the California-Nevada border in the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 20 miles west of Nevada’s capital, Carson City. Stateline is just east of the California town of South Lake Tahoe.

The other major hotel-casinos in Stateline are the MontBleu Resort, Harrah’s, and Harveys Lake Tahoe. These hotel-casinos also are open again, according to their websites.

Tim Tretton, MontBlue’s vice president and general manager, thanked those who have worked to beat back the fire that came to within a few miles of the South Shore.

“This re-opening could not have been made possible without the tireless and resilient work of our firefighters, first responders, and the support of everyone on the sideline coming together as one,” he wrote.

Fire Still Threatens Area

The Caldor Fire began southwest of Lake Tahoe on Aug. 14 and burned its way through dry timberland and parched terrain in three counties. It is named after a street in El Dorado County, where the blaze began. The cause is under investigation.

As the fire closed in on Lake Tahoe, thousands of residents in both states were forced to evacuate. Some residents have returned. Though the casinos have reopened, many businesses are still closed.

Retired postal worker George Ayers, commenting on the smoke and ash blanketing the lake, told NBC News he is heartbroken that one of the “most beautiful places in the world” has been smothered in a brown and yellow haze. The fire has burned through more than 218,000 acres in drought-stricken California west of the lake, destroying more than 1,000 structures

It was like the world was on fire,” Ayers said.

By last weekend, the Caldor Fire was 67 percent contained. However, fire officials stressed that Lake Tahoe is not out of danger. Some 10,000 residents have not been able to return to their homes, NBC News reported.

President Joe Biden was slated on Monday to conduct an aerial survey of damage from the Caldor Fire.

Warmer, Drier West

The Caldor Fire is one of more than a dozen major blazes in California. Throughout the West, at least 90 wildfires have kept firefighters busy this summer.

 Over the past 30 years, climate change has made the West warmer and drier, leading to more fires, the Associated Press reported.

The world’s hottest month on record occurred this July, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year. But July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said. “This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”

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