SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - A large plume of smoke rising from Lake Tahoe's East Shore early this week was the result of a U.S. Forest Service prescribed burn in Slaughterhouse Canyon, said Cheva Heck, a spokeswoman for the Forest Service, in a statement released Monday.
Outside of a few burn piles that are too deeply buried in the snow to reach, Forest Service crews completed work on the 245 acre project on Monday, Heck said.
A 60 acre prescribed burn near Meeks Bay is scheduled for the rest of the week pending favorable weather conditions.
"We understand that smoke from prescribed fire can be inconvenient and unpleasant," Heck said. "We ask for the community's understanding while we take advantage of the right conditions to make progress toward reducing the risk of a major wildfire this summer."
The prescribed fire in Slaughterhouse Canyon caught at least one Lake Tahoe Basin fire agency by surprise.
Better notification would have helped the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District prepare for the approximately 100 calls dispatchers received regarding the prescribed fire, said Battalion Chief Ryan Sommers.
Sommers emphasize the Fire Protection District has a good working relationship with the Forest Service, but said fire agencies around the basin are "behind the eight ball" when it comes to such highly visible prescribed burns.
Because of problems with the phone system at the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, a local fire information line cannot be updated, but word about the prescribed fire went out to dispatch centers and notification lists, Heck said.
"We're looking into (concerns), it appears all the correct notifications were made," Heck said.
The Forest Service's phone system problems could be fixed as soon Wednesday, Heck said.
Up-to-date information on the Forest Service's prescribed fires is available at http://fs.usda.gov/ltbmu.
To be added to notification lists for prescribed fire plans, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate your neighborhood.