South Lake Tahoe will celebrate Fire Prevention Week on Saturday with the 19th annual Kiwanis Club of Lake Tahoe's FireFest, an event hosted by local fire agencies to promote fire education and safety in the basin.
"This is our most important event because we want to educate the community about fire prevention, especially with all the fires going on around us that were human-caused. It's a very important message," Lake Valley Fire Protection District Administrative Assistant Leona Allen said.
In the past the event has drawn upward of 1,000 people annually to the Lake Tahoe Airport. It a chance to learn about fire safety in a fun, exciting way, Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Eric Guevin said.
Any festival that incorporates live fire and working helicopters can't be too dull, and this year's Fire Fest offers some exciting, interactive demos.
There will be a fire sprinkler burn demonstration to show attendees the importance of installing fire-prevention technology in your home. At 1 p.m., watch firefighters ignite what Guevin called an enormous dollhouse, half of which has sprinklers, half of which does not.
The side without sprinklers is burned completely to the ground after the demo, Guevin said.
Allen said one of the most popular stations is the auto extraction at noon, in which firefighters remove a patient from a wrecked car. Or rather, they remove the car from the patient as they cut into the vehicle's metal frame with power tools.
There will also be two propane demonstrations on Saturday, and although Allen didn't want to give away too many specifics before the event, she did say it will definitely involve more live fire.
"The demo will show how firefighters respond to a propane fire. Here in Tahoe there are still people with propane in their homes and this will demonstrate the intensity of those firefighting-measures," Allen said.
Children and their families can get a close view of up to five helicopters on the airport's tarmac, as well as meet mascots Smokey the Bear and Sparky the Dog, escape from the Smoke House, handle fire hoses and watch the different fire departments compete.
"It's family-fun, but it's also educational. There's a lot of hands-on activities. It's important so people know the dangers of fire, so they have a healthy respect for fire, but also so they're not afraid of fire. One of the key things is that people know how to respond appropriately," Guevin said.
Many of those responses occur before a home is even threatened by fire, Allen said. They include clearing a defensible space around the house, installing sprinklers and having an evacuation plan ready. It's better to make sure your family and pets are safe before attempting to put out the flames by yourself, she said.
The festival is held a week earlier then the official Fire Prevention Week in order to take advantage of the remaining warm days before winter sets in on the South Shore. But the time also coincides with high fire danger.
This year in particular has seen numerous wildfires across the state. Last week Tahoe felt the heat from two fires on the South Shore, one of which destroyed two houses.
"A lot of our resources that usually go into FireFest are on fires right now," Allen said.