How home security cameras are giving Caldor Fire evacuees comfort and connection

ByLeslie Brinkley KGO logo
Saturday, September 4, 2021
Tahoe evacuees use home security cameras to monitor Caldor Fire
Homeowners in the Tahoe area are using their doorbell cameras and security cameras remotely to see if their houses survived.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KGO) -- Homeowners in the Tahoe area monitoring the fires remotely have been reaching out on their doorbell cameras and security cameras to see if their houses survived.

They've even started conversations with firefighters and police and met their neighbors, all virtually.

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Living in Berkeley, Maureen Nandini Mitra started keeping an eye on their Kirkwood family cabin via their security camera there.

"We started watching pretty regularly to see what was happening and following the fire maps," Mitra said.

On Tuesday, they saw firefighters on patrol, stopping to eat at a neighbors porch.

Mitra said, "I told my husband 'I hope one of them walks by so we can talk to them.' And sure enough one of them walked over and was circling our house. So we pressed the button and kinda yelling and calling out to him and saying hi. He came and we talked and were like 'thank you so much for everything. We see you're hanging out. If you're in need of a place to lie down or rest, this is where the keys are!'"

VIDEO: Volunteer firefighter hospitalized with burn injuries in Caldor Fire

A volunteer firefighter, who was battling the Caldor Fire, is in the hospital with second to third-degree burns on 20% of his body.

She started posting on Twitter and providing updates, amassing followers and meeting neighbors for the first time online in the chaos.

Mitra added, "Someone said on Twitter, 'your posts are really helping me with anxiety about our home.'"

Unexpectedly, security cameras aren't providing protection in a fire, but connection and a community service.

A San Francisco man, Chris Kennedy, monitored his security camera as the fire got within a half a mile of his South Lake Tahoe home.

He noticed a police car pull up, then drive away. And then he got a surprising text message from people who rented his house last summer.

TAKE ACTION: How to help Tahoe communities

Kennedy said the text said, "Hey I just wanted to let you know that my son's a police officer for Southern California police. He was assigned to Lake Tahoe and he was there when we stayed as a family and he just wanted to let you know that your home's safe and she sent a picture."

"The kindness of people never ceases to surprise me," Kennedy said.

"I think it's beautiful," said Mitra. "I would love to get to know the people I've gotten to know online."

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