Forest Service offers safety tips for Independence Day at Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Forest Service offers safety tips for Independence Day at Lake Tahoe

Special to the Sierra Sun
All fireworks, including sparklers and firecrackers, are illegal in the Tahoe Basin and in Truckee.
Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service

Summer is officially underway and recreational activities are in full swing in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team released a notice reminding visitors and residents that wildfires pose a serious threat to Lake Tahoe neighborhoods, communities, and forests. Whether backpacking, camping, hiking, or participating in some other activity in the forest, please keep the following tips in mind to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire.

Fireworks

The Fourth of July holiday is right around the corner. All fireworks, including sparklers and firecrackers, are illegal in the Tahoe Basin and in the Truckee area due to the wildfire danger they pose to our communities and forests. Please leave fireworks to the professionals and attend one of several public shows around the lake this Independence Day.

Campfires

Illegal campfires continue to be the leading cause of unwanted wildfires in the Tahoe Basin.

Please remember, campfires and portable charcoal grills are only allowed within metal fire rings and/or standup grills provided in designated campgrounds. Campfires and portable charcoal grills are not allowed on national forest beaches, in the Desolation Wilderness, Meiss Country, along Genoa Peak Road and the Tahoe Rim Trail or in any existing rock fire rings. Gas stoves are allowed in all areas with a free, valid California Campfire Permit available online at http://www.preventwildfireca.org/Campfire-Permit/.  

Additionally, during periods of high fire danger, campfires in designated areas may be restricted. Before building a campfire, always check with local fire districts or the US Forest Service to find out if restrictions are in place.

Learn to properly build, maintain and extinguish campfires and always keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby. Select an open location away from trees and overhanging tree branches, logs, brush or dry vegetation. Keep the fire small and be sure that all combustible materials fit within the fire ring. Never leave the campfire unattended and be sure to completely extinguish it before leaving, using the Soak, Stir and Feel method. Soak the fire with water and stir thoroughly. Using the back of your hand, feel for any remaining heat. Repeat as needed until the fire is completely extinguished and no hotspots remain.  

Sparks

Most wildfires are caused by human activity.

Things like lawn equipment, debris burning, target shooting, and vehicles can all cause sparks that may ignite a wildfire when used under the wrong conditions.

Lawn mowers, weed-eaters, chain saws, grinders, welders, tractors, and trimmers can all spark a wildland fire when used during hot, dry and windy weather. This type of equipment should be operated before 10 a.m. when the humidity is higher and never when it’s excessively dry, hot and/or windy. 

Residential burning is only allowed under specific conditions and in certain areas with a valid permit. Check with local fire districts to determine if burning is allowed in your area and if restrictions are in place. 

Target shooting under hot, dry conditions can spark a fire. When target shooting, choose an area free of dry vegetation and avoid shooting on hot, windy days. Use proper targets, such as clay pigeons and avoid shooting at metal targets or rocks. 

Vehicles should be properly maintained with nothing dragging on the ground. Dragging chains or any other type of metal can cause sparks that may ignite a wildfire. Practice proper towing by using appropriate safety devices and hitches that secure chains or other equipment. Avoid driving or parking on dry vegetation as hot exhaust pipes, mufflers, and catalytic converters may ignite grasses and other vegetation. Properly maintain brakes and tires as exposed wheel rims and brakes worn too thin can cause sparks.

Contact information for your local fire district is available at tahoe.livingwithfire.info/get-informed/find-your-fire-district/. The Forest Service may be reached at (530) 543-2600, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and is located at 35 College Drive, South Lake Tahoe, CA  96150. In the Truckee area, the Tahoe National Forest Truckee Ranger District can be reached at (530) 587-3558.

The mission of the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team is to protect lives, property and the environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin from wildfire. To accomplish that, the team needs everyone’s help and cooperation. Learn more about fire prevention and campfire safety at tahoe.livingwithfire.info/, http://www.smokeybear.com/, http://www.preventwildfireca.org and/or http://www.readyforwildfire.org/.