Chief’s Corner: Fire safety is a year-round responsibility
EDITOR’S NOTE: “Chief’s Corner” is a regular feature in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Mike Brown, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.
The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, in cooperation with the United States Forest Service, recently responded to two small wildland fires in our community. Thanks to the vigilant members of our community who immediately called 911, we were able to manage the fires before they got out of control.
Both fires were located within the boundaries of the federally designated wilderness area. Wilderness areas have very strict policies on what can and cannot be used by the fire service to extinguish fires.
If these fires were to have grown to the point of consuming large areas of forested acreage a potential loss of human life, our community and national forest lands may have been catastrophically placed in danger. Homes and land can be rehabilitated, the loss of life cannot!
If it was not for the early notification by the residents in the area, quick response and ability to hike into and start extinguishment on both fires, the impact could have been worse.
No injuries were experienced by members of the fire department or USFS, no structures were threatened, however, our water shed may or may not have been impacted.
It is possible deposits of ash/sediment from the fire may erode into our streams and find its way into Lake Tahoe, contributing to ongoing issues with lake clarity and potential contamination to our domestic water system.
This is why we all need to remember that wildfire has devastating effects on life and property.
The two fires are still under investigation but it is believed they both resulted from unattended camp fires or warming fires. It is obvious that carelessness contributed to both of these fires.
Each time fire is used to manage warmth, cooking or just enjoyment in the outdoors, people need to utilize fire safely and responsibly. Whenever an open flame is used to start a fire, whether it is in your fireplace, cooking stove, barbecue, heater, camp/warming fire or anything else, safety and caution are the responsibility of the person acting as the starter of that appliance or fire. From the beginning of ignition to extinguishment, it is the responsibility of that person to see that the fire is completely extinguished with no possibility of moving from the identified appliance, fire ring or other pre-designated container.
Please use open flame devices, fire pits, barbecues and camp/warming fires responsibly. If you smoke, be responsible and ensure proper disposal of smoking debris.
Fires can and will occur in the winter months, especially with the lack of moisture the western United States and Tahoe Basin is experiencing. It may be winter but we have not had enough moisture to take us out of wildfire fire season.
I would like to thank and recognize the members of our community for their quick recognition and notification of the two fires.
Our public service agencies encourage our citizens and visitors to always be on high alert for any unusual activities and make the proper notifications when needed.