Forest fire awareness topic of Tahoe League for Charity talk | SierraSun.com

Forest fire awareness topic of Tahoe League for Charity talk

Submitted to the Sierra Sun

Eric Horntvedt, the forest field coordinator for the North Tahoe Fire District, spoke on the forest fire conditions that have the potential of endangering our lives and property here at Tahoe a the Tahoe League of Charity May meeting.

The Tahoe basin has accumulated 178 percent of the median snow pack and the reservoirs are full. However, the fine fuels like grasses and shrubs are experiencing amplified growth. As they grow and dry out, they create horizontal fuel loading.

With lessons learned from the Angora fire, which occurred in South Shore in 2007, Horntvedt reported that snow damage brings the fuel to the ground which is a disadvantage in our fire prevention efforts. The Angora fire burned 3,100 acres and destroyed 254 homes. In the areas where fuels reduction had taken place, including tree thinning, brush removal, and prescribed burns, the fire burned in drastically different ways. On the ground surface, the fire burned at a level that the firefighters could actually take effective suppression action. By contrast, the fire burned much more intensely in areas that hadn’t been treated. The flames traveled up into the tree canopy from “ladder fuels” which were low hanging tree branches and flammable shrubs.

The 10 years that has lapsed since this devastating occurrence has taught us well and has encouraged a proactive sequence of events. In 2008, the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team was formed with 20 partner agencies around the Tahoe Basin. We were able to pool resources, coordinate on grants and get more for our dollar when doing larger-scale hazardous fuel projects.

Over the last 20 years, 69,500 acres of forest have been cleared of hazardous fuels in the basin. More than 48,000 of those acres were cleared since the Angora Fire. Today, 50 percent of the forest in the wildland urban interface has been treated to reduce hazardous fuels.

Being prepared is the key to surviving a potential wildfire. Have a “Go Bag” ready. Fill it with masks to filter out large particulates, visor mounted lamps in case of power outage, food, water, a battery-operated radio, and essentials to last 72 hours. This effort can help to save a life.

“Fire events are dynamic. You must have the mindset to be prepared and to listen to the updates.” Horntvedt said. “In being fire adaptive, people are serving not only their homes but also are serving their communities.”

The next meeting for Tahoe League for Charity is open to the public by reservation only and will be on Monday, June 10, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The June speaker will be Andrew Oesterreicher from Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue. Contact Nileta Morton at morton@jutland.com or visit tahoeleagueforcharity.org for information.