Thousands flee Mosquito fire, still growing without containment west of Tahoe Meadows
An inferno burning over a hilltop in the Sierra foothills on Monday destroyed homes, left at least 24 dead, and spewed fireballs the size of a football through the atmosphere for hours, creating an inferno about half the size of the 2009 Camp Fire. The Sierra Fire began Aug. 2 and has destroyed 3,100 homes and killed five people (three in the fire zone) and destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of timber and brush. That’s more than three dozen times the size of the Camp Fire.
There are two camps in front of the Sierra fire, from which thousands of evacuees took refuge, and a third camp of more than 1,400 people at the top of the fire zone.
But the new fire is burning with its back turned toward the Sierra foothills, and the danger facing it is not from a rapidly expanding fire danger, but from its location on the front side of the Sierra, facing east and east-northeast. That puts it in danger of being overtaken by the wind and snow and driven into the communities of Lake Tahoe and Reno, Nevada, and to the west.
The new fire is burning as a wildfire for the third time this season, following last month’s Camp Fire, which burned nearly 17,000 acres and killed 85 people, and then this summer’s Sierra Fire, which burned 22,000 acres and killed five people.
A couple of times this summer, the Sierra Fire has burned to the south of the Sierra, and in the foothills. In June, when it passed through Reno, it burned only a few hundred acres, with much of the fire consumed.
But this time, on Monday, as the new fire rose over the top of the Sierra and burned toward the lake, it was only a few hundred yards away from the communities of Truckee Meadows Road and Westlake Boulevard.