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My Turn: Don’t be the spark

Michael Schwartz

It is that time of year when the North Tahoe Fire Protection District welcomes our seasonal residents and the influx of an excited visiting public. Over Memorial Day weekend, the traditional family residential cleanups took place for defensible space, with inspections and curbside chipping to follow.

With the long summer days and nights at the lake shore and on our hiking trails, campgrounds along the Truckee River, local beaches, backyard decks along mountain retreats and the backcountry playing host to all manner of nature enthusiasts with adventure on the mind, comes a swarm of busy dispatch calls to our local North Tahoe Fire stations in Kings Beach, Tahoe City, Homewood, Alpine and with the addition of a Calfire engine at the Carnelian Bay station on the North Shore.

The message to our citizens and visitors is the adage, “Don’t be the Spark.” Fire is at hand in myriad ways as open flame.

In the last decade, these are the more prominent cases for dispatch calls involving fire to the North Tahoe Fire Protection District:

Unauthorized Burns (pine needles, vegetation) — Calfire has suspended all Burn Permits for Placer and other counties.

Unattended Authorized Burns such as camp fires or cooking fires — it is the six-year anniversary of two very significant fires that occurred in the Lake Tahoe Basin, the Angora fire (illegal campfire that got out of control) and the Washoe fire (started from a barbecue that got out of control).

Unattended fireplaces with active fire, and chimney fires (maintenance related) — accounts for two recent fires in the last quarter year in the NTFPD.

Smoking materials, (cigarettes, matches).

Fireworks (banned in Lake Tahoe Basin).

Vehicle fires.

Dumpster fires.

Appliance fires. (clogged dryer filters, maintenance issues).

Electrical fires (maintenance and code issues).

The North Tahoe Fire Protection District urges all residents and visitors to be vigilant.

Don’t be the spark — keep open flame out of the forest this summer.

Michael Schwartz is chief of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District.


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