Washington Fire south of Lake Tahoe grows to 9,500 acres | SierraSun.com

Washington Fire south of Lake Tahoe grows to 9,500 acres

Staff report

GENOA, Nev. — Markleeville residents are going through a second afternoon of gusty winds and dry weather with the threat of evacuation hanging over their heads.

Notices were posted on some residents' doors warning them to be ready to evacuate the town, should the winds shift bringing the 9,500-acre Washington fire to their doors.

The Alpine County seat has a population of 210, up 13 from 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Today, firefighters are working to build a line between the fire and the town.

The fire is burning two miles from Markleeville, and has already forced a handful of people east of Highway 5 from their homes. Campers and hikers have also been evacuated.

As of 12:30 p.m., an estimated 500 firefighters have been battling the blaze, with most of those manning hand crews that have been necessary due to the rugged terrain.

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Eight air tankers and eight helicopters are aiding from the air, while 17 engines are working structure protection in the region.

Highway 89 is closed just outside of Markleeville all the way over Monitor Pass and down to Highway 395 on the other side.

Highway 4 is closed for the junction with Highway 89 to Ebbetts Pass.

The wind picked up at around 11 a.m. and by 12:50 p.m. had a 27 mph gust. Gusty southwest winds are expected to continue today through Wednesday morning when the winds are expected to slow down and shift to the east, according to the National Weather Service.

Turtle Rock Park has been closed to campers, due to smoke and its use by firefighters as a base