| SierraSun.com

Firefighter deployed to Loma Linda to support COVID-19 surge

Firefighter/Paramedic Stephanie Lockhart was the first to volunteer when North Tahoe Fire received an emergency request for assistance from Loma Linda University Medical Center, where ICU beds are currently at 99% capacity.
Provided photo

Firefighters are no stranger to being deployed on 14-day assignments during disasters, and this winter, crews will don a different uniform as they report to hospitals instead of wildfires.

Firefighter/Paramedic Stephanie Lockhart was the first to volunteer when North Tahoe Fire received an emergency request for assistance from Loma Linda University Medical Center, where ICU beds are currently at 99% capacity. Lockhart will be on assignment at the hospital working 12-hour shifts, assisting nurses and other hospital staff with patient care for the next two weeks.

The California Office of Emergency Services penned the agreement with the California Fire Service on Dec. 28, 2020. The agreement clears the way for firefighter/paramedics and EMTs to utilize the existing California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid system and the California Fire and Assistance Agreement (CFAA) to provide desperately needed support to California’s hospitals and alternate care sites.

“As a result of the COVID-19 surge, hospitals are the ones calling 911 for help and the fire service is answering that call with fire mutual aid, sending our crews into combat hand-in-hand with healthcare professionals in response to this viral inferno,” said Mike Schwartz, Fire Chief for North Tahoe Fire. “The California Fire Service has an extremely efficient framework to mobilize resources, and this agreement cuts through the red tape, allowing our first responders to use their medical training to provide assistance where it is most needed during this pandemic.”

Firefighters with North Tahoe Fire began receiving vaccinations for COVID-19 earlier this month. Schwartz says the agreement was designed to provide surge support to hospitals and alternate care facilities for up to six months, or until fire season limits the availability of fire resources.

Vaccination is one of the most significant resources to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Schwartz encourages communities to follow guidance to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and encourages Californians to take the vaccine as soon as it is available. Information on California’s plan to distribute safe and effective vaccines can be found at https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/.

Source: North Tahoe Fire Protection District

Smoke may be visible this week at Tahoe from 11 prescribed burns

There are 11 prescribed burns this week at Lake Tahoe, weather permitting. Provided

There are about a dozen prescribed fire operations around Lake Tahoe this week to burn piles and underbrush that fuels wildfires.

The U.S. Forest Service said if the weather cooperates, smoke will likely be visible from 11 prescribed fires.

Pile burning is intended to remove excess fuels (branches, limbs and stumps) that can feed unwanted wildfires and involves burning slash piles that are constructed by hand and mechanical equipment.

Understory burning is low intensity prescribed fire that takes place on the ground (the understory). Understory burning uses a controlled application of fire to remove excess vegetation under specific environmental conditions that allow fire to be confined to a predetermined area.

Officials say winter’s cooler temperatures and precipitation bring ideal conditions for controlled burns.

Smoke from prescribed fire operations is normal and may continue for several days after an ignition depending on the project size and environmental conditions, said a press release. Officials said prescribed fire smoke is generally less intense and of much shorter duration than smoke produced by wildland fires.

The Forest Service is conducting the operations in conjunction with the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team, which includes representatives of Tahoe Basin fire agencies, Cal Fire, the Nevada Division of Forestry, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and others.

Agate Bay community earns national recognition for wildfire preparedness

Provided photo
Agate Bay community’s workday efforts reduce the risk of damage from fire at the community level.

Agate Bay is the fifth community in North Tahoe to receive the National Fire Protection Association’s recognition as a Firewise community. The Firewise USA program teaches residents how to adapt to living in a wildfire area, and helps guide residents on the most effective actions to prevent home ignitions and wildfire disasters.

The Agate Bay community in Lake Tahoe consists of 450 homes on approximately 250 acres of Wildland Urban Intermix. The Firewise USA program provided the volunteer group with a framework to engage neighbors to work together in coordination with North Tahoe Fire and the Placer County Fire Safe Alliance. Stakeholders completed a community wildfire risk assessment and developed an action plan to guide their efforts to reduce the risk of wildfire. The committee met with District staff to receive education on defensible space compliance and fire prevention, and shared that information with their community members. These efforts improve the community’s chance of wildfire survival through practical actions in risk reduction and emergency preparedness.

“The Agate Bay Firewise Committee is proud of receiving national recognition as a Firewise Community,” said John McQuitty, Firewise leader. “Thanks to all the hard work by the Agate Bay Residents in performing Defensible Space on and around their homes and property, attending educational events, and workdays. Their participation and work help to strengthen our community’s resilience to wildfire in the Basin.”

“Neighbors collectively spread the message of prevention and preparedness, which encourages on-the-ground- work to take place,” said Eric Horntvedt, North Tahoe Fire’s Forest Fuels Coordinator. “The time invested into our community compounds, and we commend the Agate Bay Firewise Committee for their ongoing efforts to proactively prepare for wildfire at the community level, while emphasizing the necessity of emergency preparedness.”

Firewise USA is a nationwide program that provides formal recognition to communities implementing actions to protect people and properties from the risk of fire in the wildland/urban interface. Participants reduce their wildfire risks by actively participating in the program and completing requirements each year.

One of the many benefits of achieving the Firewise USA recognition, includes access to discounts for homeowners’ insurance currently offered by USAA and Mercury Insurance. Communities interested in participating in the Firewise USA program can learn more at www.ntfire.net/firewise-usa.

Source: North Tahoe Fire Protection District

Alpine Peaks community earns recognition for wildfire preparedness

Alpine Peaks Association treated three acres of association-owned property this season, leaving a park-like setting that also provides defensible space for the community.
Provided photo

The commitment and hard work of homeowners in the Alpine Peaks Community was recognized by receiving the National Fire Protection Association’s designation as a firewise community.

The Alpine Peaks Firewise Committee completed a rigorous set of criteria required to participate in the national program by coordinating with North Tahoe Fire and the Placer County Fire Safe Alliance. Stakeholders completed a community wildfire risk assessment and developed an action plan to guide their efforts to reduce the risk of wildfire in their community. The committee met with District staff to receive education on defensible space compliance and fire prevention information in order to take that information and further educate their community members.

The committee chose FireWise USA when they recognized the community needed to collaborate to reduce the wildfire risk for Alpine Peaks’ 97 properties. “Our neighborhood was strongly motivated by several factors including illegal campfires, nearby lighting strikes, and insurance non-renewals,” said Bob Zimmerman, Alpine Peaks co- leader.

The program provides the group with a framework to engage neighbors to work together to increase the community’s chance of wildfire survival through proactive actions in risk reduction efforts and emergency preparedness.

“Our recent FireWise certification was the result of the remarkable efforts of our neighbors to create defensible space, and the dedication of the Alpine Peaks FireWise team,” said Greg Briggs, Alpine Peaks co-leader. “We all worked together towards a common goal; to make our community better prepared for wildfire. The mentoring provided by North Tahoe Fire staff was invaluable to our success. We also recognize that this is the first step; each year we all need to maintain and improve defensible space. We encourage other communities to pursue FireWise recognition; we live in a beautiful area but we need to act to help preserve it. There are many opportunities available in the Basin to learn how to accomplish this goal, which helps all of us.”

“Neighbors collectively spread the message of prevention and preparedness, which encourages on-the-ground- work to take place,” said Eric Horntvedt, North Tahoe Fire’s Forest Fuels Coordinator. “The time invested into our community compounds, and we commend the Alpine Peaks Firewise Committee for their ongoing efforts to proactively prepare for wildfire at the community level, while emphasizing the necessity of emergency preparedness.”

 

North Tahoe and Meeks Bay Fire Protection Districts

Firewise USA is a nationwide program that provides formal recognition to communities implementing actions to protect people and properties from the risk of fire in the wildland/urban interface. Participants reduce their wildfire risks by actively participating in the program and completing requirements each year.

Communities interested in participating in the Firewise USA program can learn more at www.firewise.org/usa.

Source: North Tahoe Fire Protection District

Burn suspension lifted starting Monday in Nevada, Placer, Yuba and Sierra counties

Effective 8 a.m. this past Monday, the burn suspension in Nevada, Yuba, Placer and Sierra counties was lifted.

Cal Fire Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit Chief Brian Estes is formally canceling the burn suspension and advises residents they may resume burning on permissible burn days. Agriculture burns within the State Responsibility Area must be inspected by Cal Fire prior to burning until the end of fire season. Inspections may be required for burns other than agriculture burns. This can be verified by contacting your local Air Quality Management District.

Cooler temperatures, higher humidity and winter weather have helped to begin to diminish the threat of wildfire. Property owners and residents are asked to use caution while conducting debris or agriculture burns, follow all guidelines provided, and maintain control of the fire always. Individuals can be held civilly and/or criminally liable for allowing a fire to escape their control and/or burn onto neighboring property.

Pile Burning Requirements

Only dry, vegetative material such as leaves, pine needles and tree trimmings may be burned.

The burning of trash, painted wood or other debris is not allowed.

Do not burn on windy days.

Clear a 10-foot diameter down to bare soil around your piles.

Have a shovel and a water source nearby.

An adult is required to be in attendance of the fire always.

Safe residential pile burning of forest residue by landowners is a crucial tool in reducing fire hazards. State, federal and local land management and fire agencies will also be utilizing this same window of opportunity to conduct prescribed burns aimed at improving forest health on private and public lands.

For more information on burning, visit the Cal Fire website at www.fire.ca.gov.

Source: Cal Fire

Fall prescribed fire program gets underway

The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team will begin conducting prescribed fire operations in the Lake Tahoe Basin this week, weather and conditions permitting.

North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District began operations at Diamond Peak Ski Resort. California State Parks is scheduled to begin operations at Burton Creek and Sugar Pine Point state parks as well. Smoke may be visible.

Prescribed fire managers use different methods to reintroduce fire back into forests including pile burning and understory burning. Pile burning is intended to remove excess fuels (branches, limbs and stumps) that can feed unwanted wildfires and involves burning slash piles that are constructed by hand and mechanical equipment. Understory burning is low intensity prescribed fire that takes place on the ground (the understory) rather than pile burning. Understory burning uses a controlled application of fire to remove excess vegetation under specific environmental conditions that allow fire to be confined to a predetermined area. Understory burning produces fire behavior and fire characteristics required to attain planned fire and resource management objectives.

Fall and winter bring cooler temperatures and precipitation, which are ideal for conducting prescribed fire operations. Each operation follows a specialized prescribed fire burn plan, which considers temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation, and conditions for the dispersal of smoke. All of this information is used to decide when and where to burn.

Smoke from prescribed fire operations is normal and may continue for several days after an ignition depending on the project size and environmental conditions. Prescribed fire smoke is generally less intense and of much shorter duration than smoke produced by wildland fires.

Agencies coordinate closely with local, county and state air pollution control districts and monitor weather conditions carefully prior to prescribed fire ignitions. They wait for favorable conditions that will carry smoke up and disperse it away from sensitive areas. Crews also conduct test burns before igniting a larger area, to verify how effectively materials are consumed and how smoke will travel.

Before prescribed fire operations are conducted, agencies post road signs around areas affected by prescribed fire, send email notifications and update the local fire information line maintained by the USDA Forest Service at 530-543-2816. The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team gives as much advance notice as possible before burning, but some operations may be conducted on short notice due to the small window of opportunity to conduct these operations.

To learn more about the benefits prescribed fire, visit https://tahoe.livingwithfire.info/get-informed/understanding-fire/.

The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team releases fall fire safety tips

As fall approaches, devote a little more time outside to get yards cleaned up and preparations completed ahead of winter.

The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team reminds residents to make preparations now to be ready for fall wildfires and to save time and energy next spring.

Clean out and rake up leaves, pine needles, and pinecones that have fallen, and remove all dead vegetation that may have accumulated. Contact local fire district and take advantage of free curbside chipping services before the season ends. Clear out any debris from rain gutters and check for proper drainage. Make sure outdoor hoses are drained and properly stored away for the winter.

Once yard work is squared away, head inside and review important home safety items. Check to make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly.

Make sure furnaces have been inspected and serviced by a qualified professional. Also have chimneys and vents cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional. Creosote buildup is the leading cause for chimney fires. An ash can on hand to properly store your fireplace ashes is available. Please keep it on a non-combustible surface at least 10 feet from your home or nearby buildings. Check that fireplace screens are in good condition and in a secure position in front of the fireplace. If portable space heaters are being used, ensure an there’s an automatic shutoff, plug directly into an outlet — not an extension cord — and also make sure they are at least three feet away from anything flammable.

Source: The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team

Lake Tahoe fall prescribed fire program kicks off this week

The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team is conducting prescribed fire operations in the Lake Tahoe Basin this week, weather and conditions permitting. 

North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District began operations Monday at Diamond Peak Ski Resort and later near War Bonnet Way/Peace Pipe Lane in Incline Village.

California State Parks is scheduled to begin operations at Burton Creek and Sugar Pine Point state parks beginning as early as Tuesday. Smoke may be visible. 

A map with project locations and details is available for viewing here

Sign-up to receive email prescribed fire notifications at pa_ltbmu@fs.fed.us.

Prescribed fire managers use different methods to reintroduce fire back into our forests that include pile burning and understory burning.

Pile burning is intended to remove excess fuels (branches, limbs and stumps) that can feed unwanted wildfires and involves burning slash piles that are constructed by hand and mechanical equipment.

Understory burning is low intensity prescribed fire that takes place on the ground (the understory) rather than pile burning. Understory burning uses a controlled application of fire to remove excess vegetation under specific environmental conditions that allow fire to be confined to a predetermined area. Understory burning produces fire behavior and fire characteristics required to attain planned fire and resource management objectives.

Fall and winter bring cooler temperatures and precipitation, which are ideal for conducting prescribed fire operations. Each operation follows a specialized prescribed fire burn plan, which considers temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation, and conditions for the dispersal of smoke. All of this information is used to decide when and where to burn. 

Smoke from prescribed fire operations is normal and may continue for several days after an ignition depending on the project size and environmental conditions. Prescribed fire smoke is generally less intense and of much shorter duration than smoke produced by wildland fires.

Agencies coordinate closely with local, county and state air pollution control districts and monitor weather conditions carefully prior to prescribed fire ignitions. They wait for favorable conditions that will carry smoke up and disperse it away from sensitive areas. Crews also conduct test burns before igniting a larger area, to verify how effectively materials are consumed and how smoke will travel.

Before prescribed fire operations are conducted, agencies post road signs around areas affected by prescribed fire, send email notifications and update the local fire information line maintained by the USDA Forest Service at 530-543-2816. The TFFT gives as much advance notice as possible before burning, but some operations may be conducted on short notice due to the small window of opportunity to conduct these operations. 

To learn more about the benefits prescribed fire, visithttps://tahoe.livingwithfire.info/get…/understanding-fire/

The Tahoe Daily Tribune is a sister publication to the Sierra Sun.

Red Flag Warning in effect before snowstorm enters Tahoe Basin

Lake Tahoe is about to receive its first snow of the season, but ahead of any precipitation there is extreme fire risk.

The National Weather Service in Reno issued a Red Flag Warning, Lake Wind Advisory and a Special Weather Statement for the “critically” dry conditions ahead of a cold front that could drop about a half foot of snow at lake level.

The Red Flag Warning goes into effect at 10 p.m. Thursday and lasts through 9 a.m. Friday.

Behind the fire weather, a cold front enters the basin Friday morning bringing gusty winds, much colder temperatures and chances for rain and snow showers. 

NWS said that this storm does appear to change the weather pattern that may possibly stick around through much of November with the potential for lingering cold temperatures and maybe even additional chances for rain and snow.

Wind will increase significantly Thursday into Friday morning with a quick burst of winds that may produce areas of blowing dust and choppy lake conditions. Gusts up to 45 mph are possible for most areas, with up to 60 mph in wind prone spots, and up to 100 mph for exposed areas along the Sierra Crest.

Afternoon temperatures will drop significantly from Friday to Saturday, with western Nevada and Sierra Nevada in the 30s and 40s. Overnight lows will be well below freezing with a few single digit and sub zero readings possible in the colder Sierra valleys.

The high Friday at the lake will be around 43 before dropping into the low 20s overnight. After the temperature drops Friday night, it isn’t expected to get above freezing for the rest of the weekend.

NWS said a quick burst of rain and snow is likely behind the cold front Friday with a couple inches of snow possible above 6,000 feet.

“While light snow showers are likely most of the weekend with little accumulation, a second burst of accumulating snow may occur Sunday morning,” NWS in its statement. “Sunday is currently the best shot at lower valley snowfall accumulations.”

From Saturday night into Sunday NWS said Lake Tahoe can expect 3-7 inches of snow.

The wind advisory is in effect from 1 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. Waves are expected to reach up to 4 feet which could wreak havoc for small boats, kayaks and paddle boards.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune is a sister publication to the Sierra Sun.

Yard clean up, home fire safety tips for fall

The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team (TFFT) reminds residents to make preparations now to be ready for fall wildfires and to save time and energy next spring by cleaning and raking up leaves, pine needles and pine cones that have fallen from trees. Remove all dead vegetation that may have accumulated.

Contact the local fire district and take advantage of free curbside chipping services before the season ends. If you haven’t had a free Defensible Space Evaluation, you may still have time to schedule one before the close of the season. Clear out any debris from your rain gutter and check for proper drainage.

Make sure outdoor hoses are drained and properly stored away for the winter.

Make sure to also review important home safety items. Check to make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly (check the batteries when daylight saving time ends on Nov. 1.

Make sure the furnace has been inspected and serviced by a qualified professional. Chimney and vents should also be cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional.

Since Creosote buildup is the leading cause for chimney fires make sure you have an ash can on hand to properly store your fireplace ashes and keep it on a non-combustible surface at least ten feet from your home or nearby buildings.

Check that your fireplace screen is in good condition and in a secure position in front of the fireplace. If you have portable space heaters, ensure they have an automatic shut-off and plug them directly into an outlet (not an extension cord).

Portable space heaters should be at least three feet away from anything flammable.

For more information on defensible space and preparing for wildfire visit Tahoe Living With Fire. For more information on Home Safety Tips, visit nfpa.org.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune is a sister publication to the Sierra Sun.