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California firefighters use ski resort’s snow guns to battle wildfire

Devastating wildfires continue to tear through parts of California and beyond, with communities on the southern shoreline of Lake Tahoe the latest to receive emergency evacuation orders.

The catastrophic Caldor Fire, which started on August 14, has so far burned more than 165,000 acres of land and destroyed more than 650 structures caught in its path. At the time of writing, there have been no reports of casualties.

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Dramatic photos (below) captured on Monday include the remarkable sight of a snow gun blasting water at the blaze as it reached the Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort about 10 miles south of Lake Tahoe. The machine was apparently one of several snow guns deployed to support firefighters who themselves used more conventional equipment to tackle the inferno.

Despite leaving a trail of scorched earth, the main buildings at the ski resort remained largely intact, according to a reporter who later visited the scene.

Significant burn scar on landscape through @Sierra_at_Tahoe ski resort. Lots of burned trees. However all buildings saved by fire crews. #Caldorfire @kcranews @kcraFitz

— Mike TeSelle (@KCRATeSelle) August 30, 2021

Shortly before the wildfire reached the ski resort, its operator tweeted: “As the Caldor Fire grows near, we’ve done everything we can to prepare. We have so much gratitude for the firefighters and emergency crews working around the clock to get this thing under control. Be prepared and stay safe out there!”

While snow guns are of course more commonly used to add extra powder to a ski field, having them available as the wildfire approached the resort was presumably a bonus for those battling the flames. This particular snow gun was built by Michigan-based Snow Machines. Called “Super PoleCat,” the device is described by the company as “a high performance big-throw snow machine with many flexible automation options including remote control and full automatic modes of operation,” and can launch snow a distance of up to 75 meters.

And it’s not just firefighters’ hoses and snow machines that are taking on the wildfires. Specially designed aircraft and even equipment aboard the International Space Station are also providing vital help to get the life-threatening blazes under control.

Anyone seeking the latest information regarding the Caldor Fire should head to CalFire’s website, which features updated reports on the situation.

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