Dense smoke warning in effect Tuesday; King Fire nears 90,000 acres
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Another dense smoke advisory will be in effect Tuesday for the greater Tahoe region as the King Fire continues to rage west of the lake.
The fire is up to 89,574 acres as of 8 a.m. Tuesday, and it’s at 35 percent containment. Roughly 12,000 single residences and 9,000 other minor structures continued to be threatened. Evacuations were ordered for more than 2,800 people.
The blaze started near the south fork of the American River, just northeast of Pollock Pines, Calif., roughly an hour or so west of South Lake Tahoe, at about 4:30 p.m. Sept. 13.
In all, four people have been injured, and 10 single residences and 22 other minor structures have been destroyed. Nearly 7,4000 people were battling the blaze as of Tuesday morning. It’s reportedly cost an estimated $42.5 million to fight.
READ MORE: A man has been arrested on suspicion of setting the fire. His bail was set at $10 million.
Visibility throughout the Tahoe region will diminish to less than 1 mile at times Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service, especially in the afternoon and evening when smoke is expected to spread east of the Sierra crest.
A dense smoke advisory is in effect from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“The smoke will continue to be a problem until the fire becomes less active … or a more favorable weather pattern disperses the smoke, according to a special weather statement.
Despite the fire inching toward Lake Tahoe, no evacuations or emergency orders are in effect for Truckee-Tahoe, various law enforcement and fire agencies have stressed since last week.
“The King Fire poses no immediate threat to the Tahoe Truckee area at this time,” the Truckee Fire Protection District said in a statement Sunday evening. “Caution — a considerable amount of inaccurate information is flowing though social media from unreliable sources.”
Further, on Tuesday afternoon, the Tahoe National Forest, working with the California Interagency Incident Management Team 5 and local partners, established a call center at the Truckee Ranger District Office.
The purpose of the center is to “provide residents of Truckee and Lake Tahoe Basin with clear and accurate information on the King Fire,” officials said in a press release.
The Truckee Call Center phone number is: 530-587-9096.
“Since the King Fire started, we’ve seen false rumors and misinformation spread in the community and having deleterious effects,” said Joanne Roubique, Truckee District Ranger. “This call center will help us better meet the needs of the Truckee and North Lake Tahoe communities.”
The Truckee Call Center will operate every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., until information needs change. The Center will be staffed by the U.S. Forest Service, the incident management team assigned to the fire, and local fire and other emergency services partners.
Thick smoke forced officials with Ironman to cancel its second annual Lake Tahoe triathlon and sister events Sunday; the decision was made minutes before the start of the main race’s 2.4-mile swim.
READ MORE: Many athletes were upset, although understanding, of the decision to cancel Sunday’s Ironman race two minutes before the start.
As of Tuesday morning, smoke levels in Truckee and Tahoe were fairly low. However, by the start of Sunday’s race, levels were at a whopping 499 μg/m³ — micrograms of air pollutant (one-millionth of a gram) per cubic meter of air — in Truckee, which equated to “very unhealthy” conditions.
As smoke poured into the basin Monday, levels again attained very unhealthy status, according to the Placer County Air Pollution Control District, and are likely to worsen as Tuesday progresses.
Click here to view real-time air quality readings from the Placer County Air Pollution Control District.
Officials with the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District are monitoring smoke levels daily, said district spokeswoman Kelli Twomey.
If levels are too unhealthy, parents are notified by 6 a.m. (typically the same schedule as winter snow days) if school is canceled.
While classes have been held across TTUSD the past few school days, outside activities aren’t allowed, based on recommendations from Placer and Nevada county health officials, said Superintendent Rob Leri.
“… TTUSD schools for the most part do not have air conditioning. The only exceptions are Alder Creek Middle School and the North Tahoe campus,” he said in a statement to parents. “At the older schools … air handling is very limited and the ability to filter the outside air is almost nonexistent.”
Further, TTUSD school buses are not air conditioned, Leri said, “so we may have students in bad air quality on a bus for long periods of time.”
“We cancel outdoor activities anytime the Air Quality Index enters the ‘Unhealthy’ category,” he added. “… If you can see and smell smoke, we consider that ‘unhealthy’ and will cancel all outdoor activities.”
Smoke was especially bad in the Truckee area last Thursday. Leri said the district mulled closing campuses on Donner Pass Road at noon.
“Ultimately we decided against closing based on the conditions we would be sending students out into an hour or so before the normal end of the day,” Leri said. “The health department agreed. If we lived in a community that had homes with air conditioners or a single place we could send 600-plus students with working air conditioning, we may have made a different decision.”
The number 530-647-5218 has been set up as a King Fire information line; further, you can follow latest evacuation and other updates at the following Facebook page: facebook.com/KINGFIREPIO.