Smoke Season: Nearby wildfires cloud Truckee-Tahoe skies
More than 100 lightning strikes along the western slope of Tahoe National Forest sparked 25 fires, with two major burns defying containment.
Coupled with other fires across the state, smoke is blowing into the Truckee Tahoe area.
The Fall Fire west of Bowman Lake Road and the Skotchman Fire near the town of Washington are the two largest at over 1,000 acres and 450 acres respectively as of Monday morning.
“With the Fall fire we are asking campers to leave the area, Bowman Lake Road is closed at Rucker Lake,” said Mark Brown, fire information officer with the U.S. Forest Service.
Many of the fires touched off by lightning are burning in remote areas where firefighting is difficult because of rough terrain and limited access.
“I think some of these fires are going to burn for quite some time,” said Doug Rinella, battalion chief with Calfire in Truckee. Truckee’s Calfire station had sent half of its crew to fight the fires on the western slope, Rinella said.
The town of Washington hasn’t been threatened by the fire, but neither the Fall Fire or The SKotchman fire has any level of containment, Brown said.
“We’re trying to bring in additional resources, but there are so many fires with higher priority we couldn’t get air support,” Brown said.
A 70-acre fire near Foresthill was expected to be contained by 6 p.m. Monday night, Brown said.
Smoke from the fires is expected to continue to blow into the Truckee-Tahoe area over the next few days, but so far air quality hasn’t suffered too much.
“The weather pattern is a west-southwest flow into this area, which will continue through mid-week,” said Rudy Cruz, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Reno.
Despite the haze being blown in, air quality is still within acceptable levels, said Ryan Murano, an air pollution control specialist with the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District.
“We are still looking really good, even though you can see haze we’re not in an un-healthful range,” Murano said.
Health advisories have been issued on the western slope, Murano said.
“If the plume comes this way and people can really smell the smoke they may want to curtail their [excursions] to indoors,” Murano said.
Cruz said winds could shift from west-southwest to east-southeast by Thursday or Friday, pushing the smoke out of the Truckee-Tahoe area.
“Firefighters are out there working but it will probably be hazy up to Thursday or Friday,” Cruz said.
Overall, 3,000 lightning strikes started 602 fires in Northern California, according to CalFire and the Forest Service.
Another fire had spread across nearly 6 square miles by early Sunday after starting the previous afternoon in Napa County and quickly moving into a mostly rural area of Solano County. That fire threatened more than 100 buildings as it fed on grassy woodland, said CalFire spokesman Roger Archey. It was 35 percent contained Sunday evening and had destroyed one home, officials said. Evacuations were ordered for some residents.
Wildfires have destroyed more than 175 homes in Northern California so far this year. Blazes started popping up in the region just as California’s unofficial fire season began in mid-May, following the state’s driest two-month period on record.
” David Bunker and The Union newspaper in Grass Valley contributed to this report.