FIRE FEARS | SierraSun.com

FIRE FEARS

Joanna HartmanSierra Sun
Ryan Salm/Sierra SunJessie Heying, Lorie Zuercher, Christina Gentry and Daniel McBride sit by a campfire at a campground in Tahoe City on Saturday evening. Campfires are allowed in California state parks at almost anytime, unless Calfire advises them not to.
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In light of all the recent wildfire activity, the U.S. Forest Services Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit ordered a burn ban Wednesday restricting campfires, charcoal barbecues, smoking and residential burning except in specified recreation areas.But several North Tahoe residents are concerned that fires, even in designated campsites, are permitted at all.As residents in this area, were asking that on red flag days and when therere fires going on, we just dont have campfires, said Tahoma resident Nicole Hull. Id like them to immediately post something in the campgrounds saying, No campfires today, on red flag days, when theres a wildfire burning, or high winds. Just make a judgment call. Why take another chance?California State Parks and Tahoe National Forest representatives insist that these campfires are safe.The only place we allow a fire in the state park is in the established, cleared fire pit. We have never had a case where one of those fires has gotten away, said California State Parks spokesman Roy Stearns.State Parks Sierra District did temporarily ban campfires on their grounds following the Angora Fire to be sensitive to victims of that blaze.They [the national forest] havent told us to stop campfires. But on our own weve decided its best to be good neighbors in the time of high anxiety, and weve asked our campers to cease with campfires until this is over and were in a better position to allow them again, Stearns said.Additionally, Tahoe National Forest will implement stricter fire limitations beginning today. Campfires will still be allowed in designated recreation areas there are 11 in the Truckee Ranger District but fireworks are banned and internal combustion engines are limited to the road.This is the second level of restrictions. We have not gone into the second level of restrictions in the last two years, said Steve Eubanks, supervisor of the Tahoe National Forest. This is recognizing that this is not a normal year. We could have more stringent restrictions go into effect later.North Tahoe Fire Battalion Chief Dave Ruben agreed that campfires in designated recreation areas are not a big concern, but that people still need to be extra cautious this summer.Most campfires that start fires in the woods are because theyre not out, Ruben said. I dont think [Lake Tahoe Basin] have had fire restrictions since 2004. Its definitely early and because of critical fuel moistures and fire danger.

Nevada County District 5 Supervisor Ted Owens shares many locals concerns with permissible campfires.Quite frankly, were September-dry in June. I know a lot of our visitors will be upset. But you know what? Tough. Better safe than sorry, Owens said about banning campfires for the summer. My concern is a fire starting at a campground or OHV use that rushes up the northern area where theres still a lot of standing dead trees and dense forest.

California State Parks closed the Emerald Bay State Park Tuesday evening because of concerns with the Angora Fire crossing fire lines. They relocated campers to D.L. Bliss and Sugar Pine Point to err on the side of caution, officials said.With Eagle Point campground, Vikingsholm historic mansion and the boat-in campground temporarily closed, State Parks is prepared for the risk of losing some holiday business.When people arent there visiting, the areas economy loses revenue, Stearns said. We would hope they can get this [Angora] fire under control real quick and put the local economy back on its feet.