By Alicia Victoria Lozano, NBC News, September 18, 2021
When the Caldor Fire swooped down toward South Lake Tahoe in California, Melissa Benavidez and her family knew it was time to go.
Her husband, a municipal firefighter, urged Benavidez to pack up their three children and head to safety while he stayed behind to work 12-hour shifts. Benavidez, a teacher, tried to make the experience fun for her family. They headed south to the Santa Cruz boardwalk and visited relatives in the San Joaquin Valley.
Despite her best efforts, Benavidez’s children felt the stress of displacement and uncertainty.