Tahoe/Truckee wildfire season will get later-than-normal start this summer, officials say
June 22, 2011
LAKE TAHOE and#8212; Heavy precipitation throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin during the winter and spring months will result in a late-arriving fire season this summer, officials said.
However, when it arrives, it will present more danger than normal due to increased growth of understory grass and brush, which can fuel ground fires.
and#8220;I firmly believe we will have a fire season (in the Lake Tahoe Basin) this year,and#8221; said Mike Brown, chief of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District.
Dave Zaski, public information officer for the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, said if dry and sunny weather patterns persist, moisture will evaporate from the plant life, making for a fire-susceptible forest.
Zaski estimates the fire season to arrive in late July or early August, depending on the weather.
One of the most ever-present dangers is a structure fire spreading to the wildland interface, Zaski said.
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and#8220;This winter, we had a structure fire on the West Shore and the branches of trees in proximity to the fire actually caught,and#8221; he said. and#8220;That was during the winter when a lot of snow was on the branches, but it still managed to burn.and#8221;
NLTFPD is finalizing its annual operations plans, Brown said, which include crafting interoperability agreements with other regional firefighting jurisdictions.
He noted that economic constraints will limit the amount of aid other jurisdictions will be able to lend if a wildland fire should occur.
and#8220;The city of Reno used to be able to dedicate 10 engines on any given day,and#8221; he said. and#8220;Now, that number is down to three.and#8221;
Despite economic constraints, Brown said regional fire departments in and around Lake Tahoe have indicated they are committed to providing available support if needed.
Zaski noted that most recent fires, including the Angora and Washoe fires of 2007, occurred during red flag warning days.
A red flag warning is a forecast issued by the U.S. National Weather Service to inform local firefighting agencies that conditions are ideal for the ignition and spread of wildland fire.
Those conditions include a combination of two or more of the following elements: low humidity, potential for lightning, high erratic wind gusts vegetation moisture content and high temperatures.
and#8220;I expect we’ll have a few red flag days here at the basin this year,and#8221; Zaski said. and#8220;It’s important to pay attention to the forecasts and be extra cautious on those days.and#8221;