As the Caldor Fire headed their way, more than 22,000 residents of South Lake Tahoe, California, woke up to an evacuation order. With just hours to spare, they packed what they could into their cars and hit Highway 50 to flee the blaze. Unfortunately, the evacuation caused a massive gridlock for locals like Mel Smothers.
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“All the streets were desolate except for one, and that’s the only road out of town,” Mel said.
As ash began to rain down on the road, Mel got nervous that the fire would catch up to them as they sat on the highway. It had taken him four hours to get just 5 miles from home. To ease his anxiety, he pulled out his cherished Nunes-Hornsteiner violin, an instrument that’s about 170 years old. Then he began playing favorites like “Tennessee Waltz,” making those around him smile despite their own growing panic.
Mel and the other residents were all safely evacuated, and now he’s going viral for his impromptu highway performance. Take a listen in the video below, and don’t forget to share this heartening story.
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