Update 4:47 p.m. Angora fire continuous coverage | SierraSun.com

Update 4:47 p.m. Angora fire continuous coverage

Jeff Munson, William Ferchland, Susan Wood, Adam Jensen, Patrick McCartney
Sun News Service

The high winds expected this afternoon haven’t materialized. Crews are catching a break as they attempt to shore up defenses against the Angora blaze, according to the Associated Press.

While forecasters were still expecting the wind to pick up later in the day, the extra few hours of calm allowed firefighters to fortify their lines, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said.

Read the full story here: http://www.recordcourier.com/article/20070627/NEWS/70627007

Tribune sports editor Steve Yingling lost his home on the first day of the Angora fire. He felt fortunate that his sons, 14-year-old Conner and 15-year-old Jordan, were able to pack a few prized possessions before fleeing Sunday as the wildfire approached their Cone Road residence.

But as the boys left their South Lake Tahoe home, the family’s elderly cat, Kit Cat, bolted out the front door and darted away. The black cat had been part of the Yingling family since the boys were toddlers, surviving more than a dozen years in an area where coyotes and owls often prey on domestic pets.

“She was scared,” Yingling said on Wednesday. “We felt bad that we left her behind.”

Returning to the gutted residence Tuesday, Yingling said his hopes were raised by the survival of a home at the nearby corner of Cone and Boulder Mountain. All six homes on Cone were destroyed.

“Then I heard a noise at the base of the chimney, where a metal damper is,” Yingling said. “She stuck her nose out. She looked like she was dazed from smoke inhalation.”

Kit Cat was frisky enough to come out of her hiding place and approach the Yinglings. Her paws were burned, but apart from that, the 15-year-old feline seemed little worse for the wear.

Yingling figured the cat sought refuge at the uncharred home on the corner.

“She’s a survivor,” Yingling said.

The Lake Tahoe Humane Society is assisting pets and their human companions during the Angora fire crisis.

The Society is ready to match foster homes with pet owners who have been evacuated.

The Society will provide financial aid for veterinary care of pets injured from fire conditions.

The Society has a current need for dog crates with doors, and towels, small litter pans or the equivalent. Call about other special needs.

The Society also has instant ID tags for cats and dogs. They can be used for a temporary phone contact.

To donate or pick up pet supplies, come by 1221 Emerald Bay Road.

To contact the Society, call 542-2857.

At a 1 p.m. news conference in South Lake Tahoe, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger praised firefighters on the front lines of the Angora Fire and assured visitors that it is still safe to come to Lake Tahoe.

State officials estimated the damage at $150 million so far in the fire that has blackened more than 3,000 acres of forest and destroyed more than 200 homes.

Sharing the stage with Lt. Governor John Garamendi, Schwarzenneger said efforts to bring in state and federal funds are well under way. But the governor, just returned from a European visit, emphasized that firefighters battling the wildfire are ready for whatever comes.

“We are aware of all the dangers (the firefighters) face,” Schwarzenneger said. “But (the fire) is in great hands. They are the best trained, greatest firefighters.”

He also put in a word for potential tourists to the Tahoe Basin.

“Right now, it’s safe to come here. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner addressed the problem of underinsured homeowners, citing the experience of property owners who suffered losses in the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego.

“Review your homeowner’s insurance today,” Poizner said. “Keep it up to date. Have an inventory done in advance, a video or photo record of your belongings.”

Reporters at the conference relayed concerns from some residents that bureaucratic hurdles by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency had thwarted the efforts of some homeowners to clear trees and brush from their property.

John Singlaub, the bistate agency’s executive director, responded by saying the agency has long made fire protection a high priority.

“We have been working on fuel treatment and defensible space for decades,” Singlaub said. “Some neighbors here have had trees cut, and had the Lake Valley Fire Department come out and mark trees.”

Singlaub said the agency is exploring additional fuels-treatment, and then acknowledged the anger directed at the agency by some basin residents.

“Emotions are running high; people are angry,” Singlaub said. “They want somebody to blame, and we’re an easy target.”

Garamendi, the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor who declared the Angora fire an emergency while Schwarzenneger was out of the country, said he “fully expects” the federal government to declare the Tahoe Basin a federal emergency.

Federal funds would not be available to individual homeowners, although Small Business Administration loans would be available, he said. The state is already documenting its expenses, which could be reimbursed by the federal government, Garamendi said.

Schwarzenneger said local, state and federal officials are already cooperating in a response to the wildfire. He stressed the importance of clearing the dead trees the Angora fire will leave behind.

“The most important thing is to learn from this,” Schwarzenneger said.

California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has said damage assessment and a fraud enforcement teams are at work on the Angora fire. Damage estimates top $150 million.

“We are on the lookout for scammers,” he said. “When we find them we’re going to come down on them like a ton of bricks.”

Poizner said that with every natural disaster unlicensed and unscrupulous contractors prey on victims. Residents are urged to call 1 (800) 927-HELP if they think they are being victimized.

For more information, visit the insurance commission Web site at: http://www.insurance.ca.gov.

For those wishing to help there are several organizations and businesses that are accepting donations throughout the Tahoe-Reno area to help families displaced by the Angora fire. Check this story for complete, updated information about local businesses and agencies helping those in need.

Also: The Tahoe Daily Tribune, located at 3079 Harrison Ave., in South Lake Tahoe, is a donation site for food, water, clothing, toiletries, blankets and more. People affected by the fire are welcome to come to the Tribune’s office to receive items of need.

El Dorado County Animal Control officers continue to assist with animal evacuations from the Angora fire near South Lake Tahoe. Some of the animals have been reunited with their owners.

In conjunction with animal rescue groups, Animal Control is in need of a variety of supplies for animals in the shelters. Supplies can be dropped off at 1120 Shakori Drive in South Lake Tahoe or behind Sierra Animal Hospital at 3095 Highway 50/Lake Tahoe Boulevard, where a shelter is temporarily located.

The following items are requested from the community:

– Dry dog/cat food

– Food dishes

– Cat harnesses

– Basic sponges

– 10×13 aluminum foil pans (litter boxes)

– Duct tape

– Zip ties

– Plastic grocery bags

– Timothy Hay (for rabbits)

For more information regarding sheltering or retrieving pets, contact El Dorado County Animal Control Shelter at (530) 577-1766. Due to a large number of calls, Animal Control is requesting that the public please be patient when requesting information and/or services.

Update 1:02 p.m.: Weather update

National Weather Service report as of 1 p.m.

Lake wind advisory, high wind red-flag warnings are in effect now through 9 p.m. Wind speeds at 1 p.m. were coming from the north at 8 mph, temperature is 73 degrees, visibility is 4 miles. Winds are expected to pick up around 2 p.m. and will gust in a southwesterly direction. Wind speeds could range from 15 mph in town to 35 mph on ridge tops.

Also: The Tahoe Daily Tribune, located at 3079 Harrison Ave., in South Lake Tahoe, is a donation site for food, water, clothing, toiletries, blankets and more. People affected by the fire are welcome to come to the Tribune’s office to receive items of need.

Wildfire Incident news release from Incident Management Team 1 as of 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 27, 2007.

Start Date: June 24, 2007, 2:00 p.m.

Location: South of Lake Tahoe and west of Fallen Leaf Lake

Acreage: 3,100

Containment: 44 percent

Expected Containment: July 3, 2007

Fuel type: Heavy timber

Injuries: 2

Cause: Under Investigation

Committed Fire Resources: 1,809 (updated numbers not available)

Engines: 186

Crews: 47

Helicopters: 12

Dozers: 2

Water Tenders: 14


– Two U.S. Forest Service firefighters were forced to deploy their fire

shelters when the wind direction shifted about 2:30 p.m on Tuesday. The

firefighters were uninjured and went to the hospital to be checked over as

a precaution.

– Afternoon gusts on Tuesday generated increased fire activity along the

north end of the Angora Fire. This resulted in spot fires outside the fire

line along Highway 89 and extended the fire perimeter on the north end by

about 200 acres. Firefighters were able to extinguish all the spot fires.

During the night crews continued line improvement and have approximately

one mile of line left to complete.

– Evacuation: Local enforcement agencies instituted additional

evacuations based on the threat. Current evacuations are now listed on the

City of South Lake Tahoe website at http://cityofslt.us. As these may

change please refer to this site for the latest information.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, are:

– Gardner Mountain area: The following streets are under mandatory

evacuation: 13th Street, Gardner Street, Taylor Way, Panther Street, Julie

Lane, Clement Street, Roger Avenue, Shady Lane, Tata Lane.

– The following streets in the Tahoe Keys area are under mandatory

evacuation: West Way, Lukins Way.

– The following streets are under voluntary evacuation: 15th St., Venice

Drive, and Tahoe Keys area.

– Mandatory evacuations are still in effect for Tahoe Paradise, Fallen

Leaf Campground, Tahoe Mountain, and Upper Angora areas. The Evacuation

Center is at South Tahoe Parks and Recreation at 1180 Rufus Allen Blvd.,

(530) 541-2850. The County Sheriff and City Police Department has

established an Evacuation and Re-Entry hot line with information at (530)

573-7966 / 621-5866.

– Increased winds are predicted today potentially bringing gusts up to 32

mph. A Red Flag warning will be in effect.

– Road Closures: Highway 89 is closed between the intersection with

Highway 50 (the Wye) and Emerald Bay. Fallen Leaf Road remains under checkpoint.

– A Public Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the South

Lake Tahoe Middle School at 2870 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

For All Fire Information: (530) 543-2842 and 2824 or (530) 541-9205

Road closure update ” many roads still open

Travel to Lake Tahoe is still open via a variety of access points, including Interstate 80 (through Truckee), Highway 89 (to Tahoe City), Highway 267 (to Kings Beach), Highway 431 (to Incline Village), and Highway 50 and Highway 207 (from Highway 395). Also now open are Highway 50 and Highway 88 to and from South Lake Tahoe, California.

At this time only one road closure remains in effect (Highway 89 on the West Shore) due to the Angora Fire that started Sunday afternoon southwest of South Lake Tahoe. Highway 89 is closed from the junction of Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe to Emerald Bay. For current road conditions, click to the California Department of Transportation’s website at http://www.dot.ca.gov.

According to U.S. Forest Service officials, the Angora Fire has burned more than 250 structures and 3,000 acres, and is 44 percent contained with total containment predicted by Tuesday. Evacuations remain in effect for homeowners, approximately 2,000 people, south of Highway 89 in South Lake Tahoe.

North Lake Tahoe businesses (both on the California and Nevada side), including retail, restaurants, lodging and recreation providers, are open and are moving forward with Fourth of July fireworks and celebrations.

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