Signs of the fire season |

Signs of the fire season

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunSigns like this posted around Truckee and the Lake Tahoe area illustrate the fire danger for the day.

Smokey Bear has been warning mountain-goers about the prevention of forest fires since the early 1940s. He often accompanies roadside fire danger signs posted at campgrounds, forests and national parks with reports ranging from low to extreme fire risks.

So it is that every morning, below the radar of campers and hikers, the U.S. Forest Service evaluates the fire weather and the local fire station moves the sign’s arrow to the appropriate danger level.

“Someone once said that all politics are local, but all fire danger is local, too,” said Rex Norman, public affairs specialist with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

Several local factors are combined at the fire weather stations to determine daily fire risk, Norman said, including relative humidity, wind, temperature and fuel moisture. The monitoring stations are located all over the Sierra Nevada with a plethora of scientific methods and instruments to obtain the measurements.

The only other reason for changing the fire danger signs, Norman said , is for administration concerns like the Fourth of July holiday weekend. It is necessary to factor in potential fire risks associated with fireworks, though the risks according to fire weather may be only moderate.

The fire danger signs are important because they are a daily reminder to be cautious with fire.

“Basically, the intent is increasing public awareness as they enter in national forests ” that added bit of precaution,” said Steve Hook, fire prevention technician with the North Tahoe Fire Protection District.

As driver enter Kings Beach via Highway 267 or Tahoe City on Highway 89, they’re reminded that only they prevent forest fires.

GREEN = low

BLUE = moderate

YELLOW = high

RED = extreme

Consider the following prevention tips in practicing responsible outdoor fire safety:

– If smoking is permitted outdoors, safe practice requires a 3-foot clearing around the smoker.

– Don’t park your vehicle on dry grass.

– If off-road vehicle use is allowed, internal combustion equipment requires a spark arrester.

– Know your county’s outdoor burning regulations. Unlawful trash burning is a punishable offense.

– At the first sign of a wildfire, leave area immediately and contact a ranger. If escape route is blocked go to the nearest lake or stream.

– Leave campsite as natural as possible, traveling on trails and other durable surfaces. Inspect your site upon leaving.

– Never take any type of fireworks on public lands.

– Keep stoves, lanterns and heaters away from combustibles.

– Store flammable liquid containers in a safe place.

– Never use stoves, lanterns and heaters inside a tent


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