Angora fire continuous coverage " updated at 10:25 p.m. | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Angora fire continuous coverage " updated at 10:25 p.m.

Jeff Munson, Susan Wood, William Ferchland, Adam Jensen

Update: 10:25 p.m.: Fire 40 percent contained

The Angora fire has reached 40 percent containment as of Monday evening. Approximately 2,500 acres have burned so far. As of the most recent count, 178 homes were destroyed. The total burn, including structures and homes, is 225.

Containment is estimated to be on July 1. As of tonight there are 1,095 men and women working on the fire. There have been no injuries.

Information can be found at http://www.inciweb.org. Click on Angora.

The fire is burning from the point of origin to the north. This is good news for fire fighters because flames didn’t spread as they did on Sunday, said Bud Ivey, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

Update: 8:48 p.m.: Fire spotted near ‘Party Rock’

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At 8:35 p.m. a report came into dispatch of a fire with flames visible at an area known as ‘Party Rock’ located between Saddle Road and Heavenly Mountain Resort. Fire crews are responding. As of 8:48 the initial attack crews responding on foot have not located any flames.

Update: 8:37 p.m.: Fundraising concert in works

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe is planning a major fundraising concert to benefit those affected by the Angora fire. Spokesman John Packer said performers from across the nation have contacted the gaming organization with interest in participating.

Update: 7:10 p.m.

   Beginning at 8 a.m., Tuesday residents from Highway 50 to Wintoon with appropriate identification will be allowed to access their property via North Upper Truckee and Highway 50; residents from Wintoon to Sawmill Road should contact the local assistance center for re-entry information.

Update: 6:35 p.m.

At this hour the Angora fire has burned 2,500 acres. About 180 to 225 structures have been destroyed including homes. Containment is at 10 percent, according to CalFire. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated, according multiple reporting agencies. Road closure at Highway 50 eastbound at Pollock Pines has been lifted. The closure at Highway 89 at DL Bliss State Park is still in place.

Update: 5:20 p.m.: Residents scan lists to see if homes fell to Tahoe fire

A community college became the epicenter for a town’s pain Monday as residents anxiously scanned computer printouts listing the homes destroyed in a raging forest fire 10 miles away.

Nearly everyone who filed into the student center left crying. There were just too many homes on the list.

“It was like the mouth of hell ” black smoke billowing on either side and this red devil in the middle,” Tara Brennan, 57, said after seeing “total” loss by the street number of her home of 31 years, 1424 Olympia Cir. “I knew it had my house, I knew it.”

Located in a popular resort area along the California-Nevada border that has been plenty of growth in the last decade but little rain this year, the rapidly spreading Angora Fire destroyed more than 200 homes and buildings in less than a day and clouded Lake Tahoe’s famously clear water.

The blaze had scorched almost 2,500 acres ” nearly 4 square miles ” by mid-afternoon Monday as it continued to burn out of control. Firefighters launched an aggressive attack, hoping to corral the flames ahead of high winds and low humidity forecast for the middle of the week.

“This is far and above the biggest disaster that has happened in this community, I don’t know, probably in forever,” said Lt. Kevin House of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department.

House said there were no reports of missing persons, but “the truth is we haven’t really been able to get in there and see.” The fire’s cause was under investigation, but believed to have been caused by human activity.

The fire began Sunday afternoon on a ridge separating the resort community of South Lake Tahoe from Fallen Leaf Lake, a recreation area where a U.S. Forest Service campground was evacuated. Neighborhoods of million-dollar vacation homes, cabins and modest houses are strung along the east side of the ridge.

By early afternoon Monday, it had claimed 173 homes and damaged many others, along with dozens of outbuildings, authorities said. Residents of Meyers, a small town that received the brunt of the damage, recalled watching in horror, then disbelief as the fire bore down on residential streets.

“I looked up and the sky was as dark as midnight, and the other side of the street was on fire,” said Keith Cooney, who had raced home ahead of the advancing flames to gather his black Labrador and belongings when a transformer in his front yard explode from the heat.

At least three members of the local fire department were believed to have lost their homes. All that remained of entire neighborhoods in Meyers were the smoldering silhouettes of stone and concrete chimneys.

A layer of black, mushy ash lapped along boat docks in the lake, raising fears the fire also could have disastrous long-term economic consequences for a community heavily dependent on the lake’s recreational tourism.

State officials declared a state of emergency, meaning California would cover all costs associated with fighting the fire, which was under investigation but believed to be caused by human activity.

“This is a very difficult day for people in Tahoe and for those of us who know and love that place,” said Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who signed the emergency declaration because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was traveling in Europe. The governor was receiving regular briefings by phone but had no plans to return early, his office said.

State and federal fire officials had warned of a potentially active wildfire season in the Sierra Nevada following an unusually dry winter. The annual May 1 snow survey found the Tahoe-area snowpack at just 29 percent of normal levels, the lowest since 1988.

Fire restrictions have been in effect in the Tahoe National Forest since June 11. The No. 1 cause of blazes in the area is abandoned campfires, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Many people said they had spent long hours getting rid of fire hazards around their homes, clearing away brush and pine needles. Forestry crews had thinned trees in some of the heavily timbered neighborhoods last summer. But that wasn’t enough to stop the flames.

“I don’t know if anything would have helped,” Jean Yingling said Monday as she described the fire that spread so rapidly that she and others in the area had only a few minutes to grab some possessions and flee.

“The fire was roaring like a jet engine. I heard some explosions and saw flames 200 feet high,” echoed Kris Diehl, a local musician and South Lake Tahoe resident who saw his house destroyed, add adding, “When that happens, you just can’t believe how fast everything happens. It’s a life or death situation.”

More than 700 firefighters were on hand, but plans to send up airborne tankers and helicopters to drop water and retardant over the heavily wooded, parched terrain were delayed because of low visibility from the thick smoke. A pair of helicopters loaded with water finally reached the scene in the middle of the afternoon.

“We have a window right now where we’re really trying to aggressively attack this fire,” said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Sacramento.

Firefighters were aided Monday by winds that had slowed to 12 mph after gusting to between 35 and 50 mph the day before. Forecasters warned that if high winds and low humidity returned, the fire could threaten more than 500 homes bordering the lake.

“It was a good time to be charging in there and making some progress,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman said. “But that could change if the winds change.”

The most destructive wildfires in California history began in late October 2003 and burned for two weeks, killing 22 people, including one firefighter, and scorching more than 750,000 acres in a wide arc from Ventura County east to the San Bernardino Mountains and throughout San Diego County. They destroyed 3,640 homes.

The most expensive single fire in state history was the 1991 Oakland Hills blaze, which caused $1.7 billion in damage. That fire killed 25 people and destroyed 3,175 homes and apartments.

Anxious residents barred from returning to the fire-damaged area jammed the lobby of Lake Tahoe Community College in South Lake Tahoe, hoping to get word from authorities on whether their homes were still standing.

Missy Springer and her husband, Al, were in San Francisco celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary when they got a call from a relative that their South Lake Tahoe home was in trouble. Indeed, it had been gutted by the fire.

“I’m making lists. Trying to figure out what to do next. Everyone is OK, but my two cats are gone. The baby pictures are gone. It’s starting over trying to figure out what to do next,” Missy Springer said.

After escaping the tunnel of fire in Meyers, Cooney found himself Monday at the Lake Tahoe Community Center, which had been set up as an emergency shelter, wondering where to run to next.

“It’s the ugliness now that’s going to sit in,” added Brennan, shaking her head. “I moved here for the beauty, not it’s going to be ugly for a long time.”

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to visit South Lake Tahoe within the next few days when the fire is contained, officials from the governor’s office Monday.

Estimated cost so far $100 million; community meeting at 8 p.m. tonight at South Tahoe Middle School

With an estimated $100 million in damage and at least $1 billion in economic losses tallied, state officials have deemed El Dorado County as a disaster area as a result of the Angora fire that started Sunday afternoon in the North Upper Truckee area up to Tahoe Mountain on the South Shore.

The fire, which is being considered the worst for the South Shore in at least a half century, was still no more than percent contained on Monday. It has consumed about 2,500 acres and claimed 220 homes and other structures. No one has been reportedly injured, and no cause has been determined.

The fire, which was prompted by wind and fuel according to officials, is under investigation.

Thousands of people have been evacuated and other left stranded with no estimated time residents may return to their homes. More than 700 firefighters and 22 strike teams are now working the fire with lines set on a 35- to 45-degree slopes due west of South Tahoe High School.

Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, toured the site ” which resembles a war zone ” and lead the effort with El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago of District 5 to get the proclamation issued.

“This is an incredible disaster. I’m so impressed with how the local agencies have worked together,” Gaines said.

The recognition entitles local jurisdictions for funding and represents the first step in allowing individual homeowners to be eligible for federal aid. Santiago contacted U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to spearhead a federal declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Tonight a community meeting has been scheduled for 8 at South Tahoe Middle School on Al Tahoe Boulevard.

El Dorado County Sheriff Jeff Neves said he expects residents to be able to return to their homes within the next two days.

The fire is under investigation, with no cause revealed except that it is believed to be “manmade.”

El Dorado County Sheriff Jeff Neves released a phone number in order for homeowners to check on the status of their homes at 530-541-5660 (ext. 336) or via http://www.edso.org. Incident command operations are in the process of moving to Heavenly Mountain Resort’s California Base Lodge from Lake Tahoe Airport.

” Susan Wood

List of homes affected by Angora Fire

List of homes by street affected by the Angor fire as of a 10:30 a.m. update from El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department Officers:

Brush Road

4 houses with major damage

2 houses listed as “OK”

1 house with minor damage

Cayuga Circle

2 houses with major damage

Clear View Drive

3 houses with major damage

1 house with minor damage

7 houses listed as “OK” (including all houses on the east side of the street)

Cliff Road

1 house with major damage

Cone Road

All houses listed with major damage

Coyote Ridge

3 houses listed as “OK”

3 houses with minor damage

18 houses with major damage

Deveron Way

No reports of damage

Dundee Circle

No reports of damage

Eagle Lane

3 houses listed as “OK”

2 houses with minor damage

8 houses listed with major damage

Elks Point Road

1 house with minor damage, all others are listed has having major damage.

Forest Mountain Drive

All houses listed as having major damage

Frontier Road

All houses listed as “OK”

Frontier Court

1 house listed with moderate damage

1 house listed as “OK”

Glenmore Way

All houses listed as “OK”

Granite Mountain Circle

11 houses listed with major damage

2 houses listed with moderate damage

Heather Circle

1 house listed with major damage

Iron Mountain Circle

4 houses with moderate damage

1 house listed as “OK”

4 houses listed with major damage

Lake Tahoe Boulevard

House numbers 877-901 listed as having major damage

Little Mountain Lane

All houses listed as “OK”

Lookout Point Circle

All houses listed as having major damage

Mountain Meadow Drive

All houses listed as “OK”

Mountain Pass Lane

11 houses with major damage

Mountain Trout

1 house with minor damage, all others listed as “OK”

Mt. Diablo Circle

7 houses listed as “OK”

22 houses listed with major damage

Mt. Olympia Circle

6 houses listed as “OK”

1 house with major damage

Mt. Rainier Drive

8 houses listed as “OK”

1 house with minor damage

12 houses with major damage

Mt. Shasta Circle

21 houses listed as “OK”

7 houses with major damage

1 house with minor damage

Mule Deer Circle

13 houses with minor damage

24 houses with major damage

Pyramid Circle

3 houses listed as “o.k.,” the rest are listed as having major damage

Sawmill Road

No reports of damage

Seneca Drive

No reports of damage

Shoshone Street

1 house listed with moderate damage

2 houses listed with major damage

Snow Mountain Drive

2 houses listed as “o.k”

8 houses listed as having major damage

Tahoe Mountain Road

No reports of damage

Tartan Way

No reports of damage

Uplands Way

No reports of damage

View Drive

4 houses listed with major damage

1 house listed with minor damage

4 houses listed as “o.k”

Zuni Street

7 houses with major damage

1 house listed as “o.k”

Where to call:

For further details, call El Dorado County Sheriff’s officials at (530) 541-4660 ext. 336

**********

STATELINE ” Patty Stetak is on edge as she and her family await word on the fate of their Mount Diablo Circle home in the Mountain View Estates. The Stetak’s are in the Bay Area holding their breaths.

“I heard that only seven homes on my street were OK, and 22 others were burned. I don’t think our house made it,” she said. “But we’re hopeful.”

For Hec Hernandez not knowing is not an option. After visiting the Lake Tahoe Community College on Monday morning, he is fairly certain his 1463 Mount Olympia Circle home is gone. Officials were posting the addresses of homes damaged, OK, and lost there.

” The college is doing updates every half hour and they said if your address is not on there you’re house has been destroyed,” he said.

He’s also had people telling him they watched his home burn on television.

Hernadez, owner of South Shore Bike on Ski Run Boulevard, was home when the fire first began on Sunday about 2:10 p.m.

He said he was getting ready to take his dogs for a walk when he noticed smoke on the ridge.

Hernandez rode his mountain bike toward the smoke as he saw people running out of the forest. Then he saw the flames.

He said he thought to himself, “Oh my God, this is real.”

Sunday’s nightmare seemed to pass in five minute increments for Hernandez. Five minutes after noticing the smoke, he saw flames. Five minutes after returning to his street, he watched the flames growing nearer a neighbor’s house.

Five minutes after that, he was putting out spot fires near his own home. Five minutes later, a firefighter told him to leave and Hernandez said he wanted to try to save his home. The firefighter tried to help, but five minutes later, “we realized there was nothing we could do.”

” F.T. Norton

********

Reports from a 12:15 p.m. press conference on the Angora fire:

– Gardner Mountain area residents should be prepared to evacuate. Not other evacuations are anticipated at this point, but that is dependent on the weather.

– At last count, 173 homes have been lost, 9 have moderate damage, 7 have minor damage. To find out about your home call (530) 541-4660 ext. 336.

– A disaster has been declared.

– The air attack is grounded due to heavy smoke, but winds are increasing and should help move smoke out of the area. Moderate winds are expected this afternoon

– It will be a day or two before people are let back into their homes. Officials are conducting systematic checks of burned over neighborhoods.

– No injuries or deaths have been reported.

– Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons will tour the Angora wildfire site in South Lake Tahoe this afternoon. Approximately 150 firefighters from Nevada are on scene assisting in efforts to control the blaze that has already burned more than 2,500 acres.

– Eldorado County Animal Control is on patrol and is picking up pets in the fire areas. Residents concerned about their pets can call (530) 577-1766 to see if their pet has been recovered.

– The fire remained on Angora Ridge and did not extend into the Fallen Leaf Lake area.

– Burned power lines are being repaired in some areas.

– The next press conference is set for 6 tonight. More information will be posted as reports come in from our reporters and photographers in the field.

” Jeff Munson, city editor

*******

Evacuations continue….Dozens of people forced to evacuate the Angora fire arrived at the evacuation center and at Lake Tahoe Community College today, many learning for the first time there home has been destroyed.

At least 200 homes have been wiped out, multiple sources tell the Tahoe Daily Tribune. The Forest Servicec has not confirmed how many homes have been destroyed. The agency has said between 180 and 225 homes and structures have been lost.

All those who own or rent homes in the evacuated areas are asked to immediately go to the theater of Lake Tahoe Community College so that properties in the burn areas can be assessed.

A list of homes either standing or destroyed is currently being compiled by state and county officials. Go to Lake Tahoe Community College’s administrative office or http://www.edso.org. An El Dorado County Sheriff deputy is developing a list of which homes are either standing or destroyed.

Evacuated residents are encouraged to go straight to LTCC to report on their possible losses.

“There are some homes and entire streets of homes that have burned down, even down to the mail boxes,” said El Dorado County District 5 Supervisor Norma Santiago. “Many of these areas are hard to identify and that’s why we need everyone who lived in the evaucated areas to come to the college.”

There are around 200 address already on the list and growing, Santiago said.

“Some of the areas are entire streets of homes that are lost,” she said.

Meanwhile, containment of the fire remains at around 5 percent, Forest Service officials said. Fallen Leaf is not in danger at this point, according to Forest Service personnel.

Cool overnight temperatures and little if any wind helped keep the Angora fire from rapidly spreading as it did Sunday, but has brought a blanket of thick smoke to the area that has hampered efforts to get an air attack off the ground.

The latest update on the Angora fire from the U.S. Forest Service this morning has the fire at 2,400 to 2,500 acres and has destroyed between 180 and 225 structures in the North Upper Truckee area, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office have the latest damage estimate to be at least 220 structures, spokesman Kevin House told CNN this morning.

Forest Service officials told the Tahoe Daily Tribune that the number of structures burned ranges between 180 to 225 in the North Upper Truckee area. The structures include homes, garages and outbuildings.

A state of emergency was issued for El Dorado County on Sunday and continues today. Hundreds more homes are threatened early this morning as South Lake Tahoe’s worst fire in half a century sent hundreds of people fleeing for safety.

Forest Service spokesman Todd Chaponot said air attacks on the fire have begun but on a limited basis because the smoke is very dense.There will be at least eight to 10 helicopters on the fire today and and several air tankers. There are 750 firefighters now on the fire, with another 400 firefighters on the way, he added.

Roads remain closed at Highway 50 for eastbound traffic at Sly Park. On the Nevada side, highway patrol officers are stopping motorists in Stateline. Highway 89 is closed at Pickett’s Junction to Luther Pass. Traffic in South Lake Tahoe is closed at South Tahoe High School and Lake Tahoe Boulevard. Residents of the evacuated areas are not allowed to return to their homes, officials said.

” Jeff Munson, city editor

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