June Marks the 10th Anniversary of the Angora Fire

Thanks to Lisa Herron, USFS-Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit on behalf of the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team for this article:

On June 24, 2007, embers from an illegal and abandoned campfire ignited the most destructive fire in the history of the Lake Tahoe Basin.  Years of fire suppression, hazardous fuels accumulation, and drought impacted basin forests, leaving them vulnerable to severe wildfire.  Fire managers and regulatory agencies across the basin learned valuable lessons from this devastating fire.  It raised critical awareness about the need to increase the pace and scale of thinning and treating forested areas in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) and to educate the public about building Fire Adapted Communities.  Unfortunately, 10 years later, there is still much work to do as illegal and abandoned campfires remain the leading cause of wildfires in the basin.

“Although the Angora Fire was emotionally and economically devastating to the Lake Tahoe community, 10 years later we have learned some valuable lessons that will help move us toward a more resilient and healthy ecosystem less vulnerable to destructive wildfires,” said U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Acting Forest Supervisor, Teresa McClung.  “Local, state, and federal agencies and partners will continue to work together to reduce wildfire risks and provide education that will support Fire Adapted Communities around the lake.”

After the Angora Fire, a bi-state commission was formed to develop recommendations aimed at reducing the risk of wildfire in the basin.  Many of the recommendations have been completed including the removal of hazardous fuels on more than 48,000 acres of forest in the basin and updates to the Lake Tahoe Basin Community Wildfire Protection Plan.  Within the fire area, approximately 1,100 acres of reforestation has taken place and approximately 2,000 feet of stream channel has been restored.  In addition, The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team (TFFT) was formed in 2008 and was tasked with implementing the Lake Tahoe Basin Multi-jurisdictional Fuels Reduction and Wildfire Prevention Strategy.  The TFFT consists of 20 partner agencies, whose mission is to protect lives, property and the environment within the Lake Tahoe Basin from wildfire by implementing prioritized fuels reduction projects and engaging the public in becoming a Fire Adapted Community.  As a result, Lake Tahoe leads the nation as a model community in taking an all hands, all lands proactive approach to addressing our greatest ecological challenges.  To learn more about the TFFT, visit www.tahoefft.org.

The lessons learned from the Angora Fire are many, but one of the most valuable lessons is that Lake Tahoe full-time and part-time residents, visitors, private and non-profit companies and organizations, and local, state, and federal agencies must remain vigilant and work together as one community to prevent and prepare for future wildfires.  The devastating impacts of the Angora Fire on families, friends, communities, and the forest will be forever remembered, but we can strive to remain resilient and reduce the impacts of future wildfires through actions and education. Take the pledge to “Think First” about when and where campfires and/or portable charcoal barbecues are allowed, complete defensible space improvements around homes and property, develop advance evacuation plans, and support the pace and scale of fuels reduction treatments including prescribed fire across all jurisdictions.  We can all work together to “Think First and Keep Tahoe Fire Safe”.  Learn more about “Think First” at ThinkFirstTahoe.org.

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June is Lake Tahoe Wildfire Awareness Month

The snow is melting, water is flowing, and wildfire fuels are growing.  Despite all the moisture, the wildfire threat remains a concern.  Preparing your home and community now is more important than ever.  June is “Wildfire Awareness Month” in the Lake Tahoe Basin, and members of the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team are continuing last year’s campaign by asking all Tahoe residents and visitors to “Think First to Keep Tahoe Fire Safe”.

A good way to start is by attending one of the three family-friendly events that are taking place as part of Wildfire Awareness Month.  Representatives from the Tahoe Fire Fuels Team will be on hand at each of the events to visit with people one-on-one, discuss wildfire prevention and answer preparedness questions.  Additional activities are taking place throughout the month to not only mark the 10-year anniversary of the tragic Angora Fire, but to also explore the research and management changes resulting from the lessons learned from the fire.

The community events include the following:

  • The North Tahoe Fire Protection District will hold their 2nd Annual Fire Safe Bar-B-Que on Saturday, June 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 222 Fairway Drive in Tahoe City.  For more information, contact Beth Kenna at 530-583-6911, Ext. 714.
  • The South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue will hold their 4th Annual Wildfire Safety Expo on Saturday, June 17 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the TJ Maxx parking lot located at 2015 Lake Tahoe Blvd., also known as the “Y”.  For more information, contact Al Martinez at 530-542-6161.
  • The Lake Valley Fire Protection District is conducting a Meyers Community Gathering on Sunday, June 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tahoe Paradise Park.  The event will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Angora Fire by focusing on the community’s healing and resiliency.  For more information about this event, contact Perry Quinn at 530-559-4813.  As part of the day’s activities, the Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities has organized a workshop including an Angora fire time series photo display and formal presentation by UNR professor Peter Goin as well as a series of 15-minute talks about a variety of relevant topics such as fire adapted communities, defensible space landscaping, and evacuation planning.  For more information about this workshop, contact Marybeth Donahoe at 530-543-1501 ext.114.

The Lake Tahoe Basin Regional Fire Chiefs are encouraging residents to work with their neighbors, local fire district representatives, and community partners including the Tahoe Resource Conservation District and Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities to prepare their homes and community to survive wildfire and work towards becoming and maintaining it as a Fire Adapted Community.  They should “Think First” and:

  • Create defensible space by removing dead vegetation, leaves and pine needles that are located next to their home, on the roof or in rain gutters.
  • Trim low tree branches to a height of at least 10 feet.
  • Move firewood stacks to a location at least 30 feet from the home.
  • Develop a personal and family evacuation plan.

Visitors to the area are also being asked to “Think First” to prevent starting a wildfire while recreating in the Lake Tahoe Basin’s extensive public lands and national forests. In the basin, more than 90 percent of wildland fires are human-caused and easily preventable.  These include tips to:

  • Put out campfires before leaving the campsite, and only have campfires in designated fire rings where they are allowed.
  • Avoid the use of charcoal when barbequing.
  • Use an approved spark arrestor when off-roading.
  • Enjoy professional fireworks shows.

For more information about the upcoming events, how to prepare for wildfire, or to locate your local fire district, visit tahoe.livingwithfire.info.  To take the pledge to Think First to help prevent wildfires and prepare our communities for wildfire, visit ThinkFirstTahoe.org.

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2017 Fire Season Outlook

Tia Rancourt, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, provided this information on behalf of the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team – With one of the biggest winters we have experienced in years and the snowpack level at 200-300% of normal, it is expected that the excessive precipitation will likely push the start of the 2017 fire season back a couple months. “Below normal significant wildland fire potential is expected to develop across northern portions of the Great Basin and far western Nevada in May and June,” reports the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). However, the low risk scenario will not last forever once the moisture is gone. Both NIFC and the Reno National Weather Service (NWS) are leaning towards July/August timeframe for the grasses to cure, dry, and for fire season to ‘heat up’. “The fire season has the potential to get busy quickly mid to late summer once we have a few good heat waves, the snow is gone and grasses have cured and dried,” reported Edan Weishahn, Reno NWS at the annual Media Training Day held on May 3rd at the Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) Redfield campus. The training is a refresher on basic fire behavior, wildland fire awareness and fire shelter deployment for regional media prior to fire season.

“With the abundance of precipitation this winter, we expect a healthy grass crop throughout the region, and once those grasses dry up, we’re off to the races,” said North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Fire Chief Ryan Sommers. Sommers, also the Chairman of the Sierra Front Wildfire Cooperators, noted that the Sierra Front Team members are currently coordinating the annual Inter-Agency Sand Table Exercise. The event will take place at the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center, 2311 Firebrand Circle Minden, NV on Thursday, June 15th and is designed to exercise inter-agency involvement while utilizing the Incident Command System (ICS). This annual event is a hands on refresher for fire and collaborating agencies prior to fire season.

For more information on the 2017 fire season visit www.nifc.gov

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Widespread Prescribed Fire Operations Continue

An update from the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team – North Lake Tahoe and Tahoe Douglas fire protection districts, California State Parks, and the U.S. Forest Service may continue prescribed fire operations next week beginning May 1, 2017.  If conditions are favorable, operations may take place near Sugar Pine Point, Brockway Summit, Incline Village, Glenbrook, Lower Kingsbury Grade, Ski Run Boulevard, Fallen Leaf Lake and Meyers.  Operations may continue over the next several weeks, weather permitting.  To receive prescribed fire notifications, send an email to pa_ltbmu@fs.fed.us.  To view a map with project locations and details, visit the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team (TFFT) website at http://www.tahoefft.org

Each prescribed fire operation follows a prescribed fire burn plan, which considers temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation, and conditions for the dispersal of smoke.  This information is used to decide when and where to burn.  When conditions meet the prescription, state and local air pollution control districts issue a burn permit allowing operations to proceed.

The TFFT gives as much advance notice as possible before burning, but some operations may be conducted on short notice.

Before prescribed fire operations are conducted, agencies post road signs around areas affected by prescribed fire, send email notifications and update the local fire information line at 530-543-2816.

Smoke from prescribed fire operations is normal and may continue for several days after an ignition depending on the project size and environmental conditions.  Agencies coordinate with state and local county air pollution control districts and monitor weather conditions closely prior to prescribed fire ignition.  They wait for favorable conditions that will carry smoke up and out of the basin.  Crews also conduct test burns before igniting a larger area, to verify how effectively fuels are consumed and how smoke will travel.  Smoke sensitive individuals are encouraged to reduce their exposure by staying indoors if they are in a smoke affected area.

For more information about prescribed fire and smoke management tips, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/RxFireOps.

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Agencies Continue Prescribed Fire Operations at Lake Tahoe

Weather and conditions permitting, Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District, California State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service may continue prescribed fire operations beginning April 3, 2017.  Operations may take place near Tahoe City, Glenbrook, Round Hill, Kingsbury Grade, and Meyers.  Operations may continue over the next several weeks, as conditions allow.  To receive prescribed fire notifications, send an email to pa_ltbmu@fs.fed.us.  To view a map with project locations and details, visit the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team (TFFT) website at http://www.tahoefft.org

Each prescribed fire operation follows a prescribed fire burn plan, which considers temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation, and conditions for the dispersal of smoke.  This information is used to decide when and where to burn.  When conditions meet the prescription, state and local air pollution control districts issue a burn permit allowing operations to proceed.

The TFFT gives as much advance notice as possible before burning, but some operations may be conducted on short notice.  Before prescribed fire operations are conducted, agencies post road signs around areas affected by prescribed fire, send email notifications and update the local fire information line at 530-543-2816.

Smoke from prescribed fire operations is normal and may continue for several days after an ignition depending on the project size and environmental conditions.  Agencies coordinate with state and local county air pollution control districts and monitor weather conditions closely prior to prescribed fire ignition.  They wait for favorable conditions that will carry smoke up and out of the basin.  Crews also conduct test burns before igniting a larger area, to verify how effectively fuels are consumed and how smoke will travel.  Smoke sensitive individuals are encouraged to reduce their exposure by staying indoors if they are in a smoke affected area.

For more information about prescribed fire and smoke management tips, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/RxFireOps.

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