North Tahoe, Truckee crews battle South Tahoe fire
More than 20 local firefighters have been dispatched to help battle the South Lake Tahoe Angora fire ” seeing first-hand what could easily happen to the Truckee-Tahoe area.
By Monday afternoon the fire has covered about 2,500 acres and destroyed up to 225 structures in the North Upper Truckee area.
Truckee-Tahoe area fire districts have all sent crews and equipment, and reports from the front line emphasize just how important it is for residents of the Truckee and Tahoe Basin to be prepared for fire.
“This is the fire we’ve all been fearing,” said Ed Miller, president of the Meeks Bay Fire Protection District board. “The area the fire is in is very much like our own fire district ” it could have been here just as easily as there.
Meeks Bay Fire Chief John Pang said while road blocks are in place at Emerald Bay to prevent people from driving toward the fire, he doesn’t see an immediate risk of the fire coming up the West Shore.
“It all depends on the winds today,” Pang said late Monday morning. “But it is highly unlikely it will come up this way ” there are a couple lakes in the way and Emerald Bay would be a significant leap.”
Every fire district from Meeks Bay to Truckee stressed how important defensible space has been in protecting residential areas in the Angora Fire, and how important it is in the Truckee-Tahoe area.
“It’s extremely important to get defensible space; there are not enough engines to go around for all the houses, they have to depend on the materials and design to help,” said Battalion Chief Dave Ruben of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District.
Engine crews have had to pick and choose the homes they protect, and often skip those without defensible space, Miller said.
Roofing material is also important ” while a noncombustible roof has a 70 percent survival rate, a wood-shingle roof only has a 20 percent survival rate, Pang said.
He said embers from the Angora fire are floating up to a 1.5 miles away from the fire front.
“That would be like an ember from a fire in downtown Truckee landing in Tahoe Donner,” Pang said.
He also suggested preparing an evacuation plan in case of a fire.
“Have a list of what to take and what to do if you do have to evacuate,” Pang said. “Be prepared to make it through one night at least.”
Squaw Valley Fire Chief Pete Bansen said the fire conditions now are more like August in a normal year.
“It makes for a very, very long season; it’s a tiring thing to look forward to,” Bansen said.
While local fire districts have emphasized defensible space, fire-smart structures and fuel reduction at the individual property level, local county officials look at the Angora fire as a reason for larger-scale fuel reduction as well.
“This only proves everything we’ve been talking about,” said Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz. “We need to get into these forests and we need to reduce the fuel load.”
Nevada County Supervisor Ted Owens said he supports thinning local forests and using biomass burning.
“It was only a matter of time before something like this hits close enough to home,” Owens said. “I wish the best for all the folks in South Shore.”
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