Here we go again. Residents of South Lake Tahoe, the residents of the Oakland hills salute you. In 1991 we too watched helplessly as the wind lashed the flames toward our houses; some people died because they couldn't get out. At least no one has died at Lake Tahoe.
I live in the Oakland hills - in a normal urban neighborhood, not a forested glade. But every time something like this happens, I marvel again at humanity's desire to live in dangerous places, because they're pretty. Dry climate forests, where fire has been a part of the landscape for thousands of years, until we moved in and started suppressing it to protect our houses, because we like them to be nestled among the trees. Earthquake country. (Yeah, that's me - half a mile downhill from the Hayward Fault. But: our house is earthquake braced.) Flood plains. Hurricane tracks. Tornado Alley. We seem to think that because we live there it won't happen again; but it will. The only question is when.
And yet, think one more time: what constitutes a "safe" place to live?? For that matter, define "safe". We all have to live somewhere; offhand, everywhere I can think of in America has some disastrous phenom that happens at regular intervals (blizzards; droughts; heat waves). Maybe what we need is not to be safe, but to be aware that we aren't safe, and take the necessary precautions; and if the precautions aren't enough, maybe we should live somewhere else. Yes, I'm talking about you, the people who live in the Sacramento Valley subdivisions, below water level, behind 100 year old levees. What were you thinking of? The houses were affordable; but if those levees go, replacing everything you own won't be. The people who live around South Lake Tahoe are in the process of learning this right now.