Lake Forest fire quickly contained | SierraSun.com

Lake Forest fire quickly contained

Julie Brown
Sierra Sun

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunFirefighters and U.S. Forest Service crews contain the area around a small fire that began Friday in Lake Forest.

Despite breezy afternoon winds, local fire department personnel quickly contained a brushfire that broke out Friday in the North Shore community of Lake Forest.

The fire was located in a heavily forested area roughly 300 yards inland from the west end of Lake Forest Road.

Firefighters contained the fire less than 45 minutes after it was reported to dispatch.

With the help of a U.S. Forest Service helicopter that dropped 1,200 gallons of water, the quick response limited the fire to a quarter-acre, approximately 10,000 square feet, said Chief Duane Whitelaw of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District.

Due to the fire’s proximity to Lake Forest homes, officials did not immediately rule out an evacuation, Whitelaw said. But after assessing the situation, Whitelaw said he felt enough resources were on hand to contain the fire to make the order unnecessary.

The cause of the fire was not known Friday, and an investigation officer was summoned to the scene.

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Some residents suspected the fire was caused by a campfire abandoned by illegal campers, but firefighters had not confirmed the claim, Whitelaw said.

Crews from the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, Squaw Valley Fire Department, Calfire and the U.S. Forest Service contained the fire at 2:25 p.m. A witness near the Lake Forest boat ramp called authorities at 1:52 p.m. and reported seeing smoke.

For some Lake Forest residents, this fire was more than a close call ” it was a rude awakening.

“I mean if it’s right across the street from you ” if the wind changed we would have had it coming right on top of us,” said Susan Bennett, who works at the Lake Forest boat ramp.

The Lake Forest Water Company, which services the neighborhood where the fire broke out, has been criticized in recent months for not having enough capacity to adequately address a catastrophic wildfire.

Whitelaw said fire personnel brought their own water to the scene on Friday. A number of local areas either have inadequate hydrants or none at all, he said.

“A fire in a zone like that triggers more water being brought down to the incident,” Whitelaw said.

Bennett said fire personnel addressed the situation quickly and efficiently.

“They seemed to be right on top of it,” she said.

Engines from the Tahoe City fire station were the first to respond, with crews from Kings Beach and Squaw Valley soon following. Personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, Calfire and the California Highway Patrol also responded.