Storms light fires near basin
Ryan Summerlin July 24, 2012
The Lake Tahoe Basin was largely spared by lightning strikes early this week that caused dozens of small fires in the region.
The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit did not receive any reports of fires starting from Sunday and Monday thunderstorms, said LTBMU spokeswoman Cheva Heck.
Still, the U.S. Forest Service conducted flyovers of El Dorado National Forest and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Tuesday to ensure no unreported fires burned following the storms, Heck said.
Heavy rain accompanying the thunderstorms helped keep any strikes from becoming fires. Many areas received about a half inch of rain from this week’s storms, Heck said.
While the rain will temporarily ease what has been a dry winter and summer, the relief from high wildfire danger is not expected to last very long.
“If we go back to a warm, dry windy trend, we’re going to be back in the same situation,” Heck said.
With warmer temperatures and a low humidity forecast for the next week, it will likely only be a matter of days before the wildfire risk returns to the high levels seen before the storms, said Eric Guevin, spokesman for the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District.
“The moisture is a temporary deal, but it is welcome of course,” Guevin said.
Although no starts were reported in the Lake Tahoe Basin early this week, surrounding areas saw several lightning-related fires.
Firefighters expected to have the more than 1,000-acre Springs fire in the Pine Nut Mountains east of Carson City contained Tuesday. Smoke from the fire found its way into the basin Sunday.
Heavy rains falling in the Pine Nuts Monday night helped firefighters contain the blaze, according to Sierra Front Interagency dispatcher Helen Frazier.
Lighting started the fire and five others in the Carson Valley area on Sunday afternoon. No structures were seriously threatened by the fires.
Forests in Amador and El Dorado counties experienced about 1,800 lightning strikes, which created 16 separate fires, the largest of which totals 28 acres, according to the Cal Fire incident website.
Tahoe National Forest, just north of Lake Tahoe, saw 25 small fires break out from approximately 900 lightning strikes between Monday and Tuesday mornings, said Ann Westling, spokeswoman for Tahoe National Forest.
All the Tahoe National Forest fires were in remote areas of the forest and were contained, controlled or extinguished by Tuesday afternoon. None grew to more than 1.5 acres, Westling said.
– The Union reporter Matthew Renda and the Record-Courier contributed to this story.