Updated September 2, 2021 - 6:35 pm
When the call came to assist with the ongoing efforts to fight the Caldor Fire near Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas Valley firefighters didn’t hesitate to jump into action.
The Clark County, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas fire departments sent out teams over two days this week.
Las Vegas Fire Department firefighter Eric Moon arrived in the area late Tuesday with a crew from Clark County to help.
Moon traveled in a water tender to supplement supply to those putting out fires in the several locations where the Caldor Fire is burning.
“We have 3,000 gallons of water,” he said. “That’s always a major problem with these things is the water supply. Our job is to keep the other engines full of water.”
Moon said he got notice that he would be on his way to the area just two hours before they hit the road.
“It was pretty hasty putting this stuff together,” he said. “It’s very rare for us to do these wildland deployments. I’ve been on the job for almost 20 years, and I’ve only seen it one other time.”
He had no issues with that as he felt it was important to support Lake Tahoe, and he has a long history with the area.
His parents met while working at a resort in the area, now named Montbleu, near where he stood while talking to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Moon also spent the earlier years of his career firefighting in the area.
“Lake Tahoe has been a high hazard for a long time. I worked at Lake Valley Fire and Rescue 20 years ago, and I went to Lake Tahoe, and we were worried about it then,” Moon said. “It’s eerie. I lived in Lake Tahoe for about 12 years, and drive down Highway 50 and not see anyone, it’s definitely a strange sight. It’s scary and sad, and hopefully we’re able to minimize the damage and keep these homes safe.”
Clark County fire Chief Kenny Holding, who left Las Vegas with the first contingent of firefighters late Monday, said the first day in Lake Tahoe was a challenge, learning the ins and outs of the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District fire system.
The Las Vegas teams were brought in to backfill fire stations in the area, which allows the local crews to concentrate on firefighting efforts tied to the Caldor Fire.
“Really our mission is to provide them relief for the crews that have been here for days on end,” Holding said.
Operating out of new terrain coming from an urban area like Las Vegas also took some getting used to for Holding and crew.
“Huge pine trees covering the area was scary for us because it’s not what we’re used to,” Holding said. “We usually cover the Strip, UNLV, McCarran (International Airport). So this is a change”
Despite the sudden nature of the trip and the learning involved, Holding said he was proud to be able to help his fellow firefighters.
“There’s a camaraderie in the fire service and first responders, so when the call was made that they needed assistance up here, the ability for the Southern Nevada fire departments to come together and put together resources and quickly get up here and provide that assistance, that meant a lot to us,” Holding said. “We’re thankful to be here and be able to provide that assistance to these fire districts that really need it right now.”