Officials: More work needed to reduce Tahoe’s fire threat
July 11, 2010
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. andamp;#8212; Great strides have been taken to reduce the threat of wildfire since 2007’s Angora fire, but officials agree more work is needed.About 8,600 defensible space inspections and nearly 3,000 curbside chipping requests have been fulfilled in the basin since the summer of 2007 through the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team, said Norb Szczurek, Fuels Management Division Chief with the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, during Friday’s Lake Tahoe Basin Wildfire Summit.Funding for projects to reduce build-up of forest fuels in the basin has become more reliable in the past three years and has increased the number of projects on the ground, but sources like the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act won’t last forever, Szczurek said.andamp;#8220;Funding is the No. 1 challenge,andamp;#8221; Szczurek added.Even after initial projects around the basin are complete, necessary maintenance will make reducing the risk of wildfire in the basin via fuel reduction a never-ending process, said Kit Bailey, U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Fire Chief.andamp;#8220;We still have got a long ways to go,andamp;#8221; Bailey said.
Some of the most insightful moments during the summit stemmed from a panel discussion by three people affected by the Angora fire.Two panelists, Leona Allen and Paula Lambdin, lost their homes during the fire. Panelist Warren Berg’s home barely escaped the blaze.Lambdin expressed frustration at being able to do nothing regarding the knee-deep pine needles on the lot next door, even though she implemented defensible space measures to reduce the risk of wildfire around her home.Getting second homeowners to understand the threat wildfire poses and implement defensible space is an ongoing issue, said South Tahoe CalFire Division Chief Mary Huggins, during a separate presentation. The agency is increasing enforcement measures this summer, Huggins said.Despite the loss of her home, Lambdin wholeheartedly encouraged people to implement defensible space in accordance with state and local regulations.Keeping a smile on your face is also critical following such a disaster, Lambdin said. No matter how difficult it seems, andamp;#8220;you’ve got to maintain a sense of humorandamp;#8221; in the face of such a loss, she said.Allen, whose father’s Mount Olympia Circle home was destroyed during the Angora fire, encouraged people to take a detailed inventory of their possessions as evidence for insurance companies in the event of catastrophe.Providing a video with a narrative detailing the items was a piece of advice given by Lambdin.Unlike many people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the fire, Allen’s father, Owen Evans, upped his insurance coverage every fire years. Being over-insured has made all the difference avoiding the insurance-related headaches experienced by many, Allen said.