When it comes to defending against wildfire, the Lake Tahoe Basin is only as safe as the sum of its parts.
Developing what Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Eric Guevin calls a “fire-adapted community” means removing dry, flammable trees from individual homeowners’ plots to make the region safer as a whole. The defensible space mantra has proven effective in the past and is crucial moving into another dry summer, Guevin said.
“A fire-adapted community is a community that could survive a catastrophic fire,” he said. “When there’s a catastrophic wildfire, we look at the community as a whole. We can’t look at individual homeowners.”
Lake Tahoe fire protection agencies will share that message during the first-ever kick off event for Wildfire Awareness Week at MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa today. The free event will include tethered Smokey Bear hot air balloon rides, a pancake breakfast, information booths and defensible space demonstrations.
The South Shore still has a lot of work to do before it can evolve into a fire-adapted community, according to Guevin. Junipers in a yard or dry evergreens looming over a house act as kindling during a fire, a natural fuse leading to a structure.
“After Angora, everyone was a believer … We don’t want to be like Aesop’s Fables and always say the sky is falling, but we’re very concerned this year with the lack of moisture,” Guevin said. “Not having that moisture is a real detriment and will increase fire danger. We’re setting up for a similar event that started the Angora fire.”
Wildfire Awareness Week is held in the spring each year to help remind homeowners they are the key to keeping communities safe. Homeowners can reduce the wildfire risk to their homes and communities by creating defensible space and reducing the fuels around their homes, TRPA Partnerships and Communications Officer Kristi Boosman said in a press release.
Guevin estimates about 600 to 1,000 people will attend the South Shore kick-off event this weekend. Representatives from the local and regional fire protection agencies, the U.S. Forest Service, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Nevada Division of Forestry will be available to answer questions and start permitting processes, according to a press release.
“Our goal is to help homeowners before these events occur. And these events do happen. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” Guevin said.