Violinist Serenades Residents Stuck In Traffic While Evacuating Devastating Caldor Wildfire

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 31 Aug 2021 11:01
Violinist Serenades Residents Stuck In Traffic While Evacuating Devastating Caldor WildfireSan Francisco Chronicle/Twitter/PA Images

As evacuation traffic built up across South Lake Tahoe, this violinist made the wait much more bearable.

In the wake of a fire spreading across parts of the city in California, thousands of residents were ordered to evacuate the area yesterday, August 30, as the Caldor fire drew closer.


The evacuation caused chaos on the roads, with the Highway 50 heading eastbound having waiting times of up to two hours.

South Lake Tahoe fire (PA)PA

Speaking about the dire traffic, South Lake Tahoe resident Dick Kline told The Guardian, ‘I haven’t moved in half an hour. I am sitting here watching all this ash come down on it but at least I am getting it out of here.’

Evacuations in the tourist town are practically unheard of, with Kline, who’s lived in South Lake Tahoe since 1977, saying he’d only had to evacuate the area once before.


Stress and anxiety were rising as ash rained on the non-moving cars, but Mel Smothers took it upon himself to entertain fellow Tahoe residents by playing the violin.

Videos shared by the San Francisco Chronicle show Smothers casually leaning on his yellow truck, serenading people nearby.

While the music was undeniably beautiful and is likely to have lifted the spirits of fellow drivers, some people on Twitter compared it to the heartbreaking moment violinists on the Titanic played together as the ship went down.


Someone wrote, ‘This hurts to see. Like the band playing as the ship goes down. But this ship is beautiful Lake Tahoe and for my entire life I can remember Tahoe being one of the most environmentally friendly places in CA and it’s going to be hit by the impacts of climate change. I’m so sad.’

Another person tweeted, ‘What a treasure. But it does give me “the willies” because it reminds me of the Titanic and as Rome burns our leaders fiddle.’

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: News, California, Fire, no-article-matching, US News


The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    Chaos as Caldor fire forces unprecedented evacuation of Tahoe tourist town