The other key factor to ensuring the protection of homes in Meyers was the immediate access to water through fire hydrants. While this may seem obvious, Chief Drennan explained to us that many of the Tahoe neighborhoods are equipped only with 2 inch water mains, rather than the standard 8 inch that allows connection directly to a fire hydrant. For example, when the Angora fire hit South Lake Tahoe in 2007, the neighborhoods directly threatened were only equipped with the 2 inch infrastructure, resulting in the loss of 242 homes. “If we had direct access to fire hydrants through the 8 inch water main infrastructure, our likelihood of saving more homes would have drastically increased,” stated Chief Drennan. The transition from 2 inch water mains to 8 inches comes at a cost, however, coming in at roughly $1 million per mile.
The Caldor Fire is a perfect example of wildfire and water infrastructure funding coming to life. Without the previous forest thinning and immediate access to fire hydrants, the outcome for homes in Meyers would have likely looked much different. By highlighting real life scenarios like the Caldor Fire, CTA members provided legislators and staffers with a simple ask: As the California wildfire season continues to become more prolonged and extreme, an increase in preventional forest management and updated water infrastructure is mandatory. We know what is effective in preventing these devastating burns, it is time that we start acting on it and treating it as the crisis it is.