Fire danger high and dry in Truckee-Tahoe
August 29, 2006
High winds and low humidity are spurring a red-flag fire warning in the Truckee-Tahoe area.
The warning was put into effect by the National Weather Service yesterday for an as of yet undetermined length of time, according to Tina Rose, public information officer for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“This is the fifth this year in our area,” Rose said. “Most summers there will be maybe a dozen.”
The CDF has brought in extra fire engines, bulldozers and hand crews to the airport fire station in Truckee and placed them on “high alert” Rose said.
To lessen the potential of fires, Rose said people should avoid doing yard work in the middle of the afternoon, making campfires, using chainsaws and smoking outdoors.
“Just a shovel hitting a rock causing one little spark could start a fire,” Rose said.
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“We take this extremely seriously especially in the Truckee-Donner-Tahoe area because of timber fires,” she said.
Meanwhile, the dry, late summer conditions and the approaching Labor Day weekend that will bring a flood of campers into the Tahoe National Forest have prompted the U.S. Forest Service to put fire restrictions into effect.
Some forests in the eastern Sierra Nevada have already reached critically dry conditions, according to Tahoe National Forest spokeswoman Ann Westling.
Campfires are now banned outside of developed campsites. Campers building a fire or using a stove inside campsites must have a campfire permit that is offered free at Forest Service offices.
Illegal and abandoned campfires continue to be the Tahoe National Forest’s top source of human-caused wildfires, Westling said.
“Looking ahead to the Labor Day weekend, low humidity and warm temperatures continue to cause us concern,” Jeanne Pincha-Tulley, Tahoe National Forest fire management officer, said in a release. “In the campgrounds, please keep your fires small and watch that wind does not carry any embers outside of the fire ring. And we really need everyone to be sure that they completely put out their campfire.”
– A red-flag warning is a state of readiness with no actual flag. A warning is issued if weather conditions exist within a 12-72 hour period which may result in extreme fire behavior, according to the National Weather Service.
– Conditions such as high temperatures, low humidity, high winds and dry lightning can trigger a red flag warning.
– CDF ranger units may increase their dispatch levels, order volunteer patrols, and create their own plans in the duration of a red flag warning.