Man Plays Violin on Highway as Residents Scramble to Flee Lake Tahoe Fire

As traffic came to a halt on the highway, Mel Smothers took out his violin and began to play.

A state of emergency remains in the Lake Tahoe area as the Caldor Fire continues to grow. Almost 500 homes have been destroyed, and more than 50,000 people have been told to evacuate the area.

But some evacuees stuck in traffic got some entertainment thanks to a musician also escaping the inferno. Mel Smothers, a retired forest ranger, says he decided to play his violin as cars came to a standstill on the highway. 

In the distance, the explosive fire grew closer and then descended upon the famous resort town. Cabins in the surrounding areas went up in flames.

As flames marched upon a ski resort, snow blowers used for making snow turned into fire-fighting weapons, saving the resort from complete destruction.  

Lake Tahoe borders California and Nevada and is known for crystal-clear lake water and pristine mountain ranges. It is considered the jewel of the Sierras.

This week, the lake is a spooky orange, reflecting the apocalyptic smoky sky.

The blaze has been burning through the Sierra Nevada for two weeks, but is only now descending upon major populated areas along Lake Tahoe.

Josh Edelson captured dramatic images of cabins going up in flames. The professional photographer now finds his own home at risk.

“My family has a cabin up here, and it's definitely in threat and I am very worried about it,” he said.

The Caldor Fire, which started Aug. 14, is 16% contained. It’s one of 83 large fires that are still burning across the western United States.

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