Kevin MacMillan

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July 18, 2013
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Small Tahoe brush fire reminder to protect homes

KINGS BEACH, Calif. — Renee Deinken was doing laundry Tuesday afternoon at her home on Beaver Street in Kings Beach when she looked out her window and saw people running down her driveway.

She went outside and saw smoke coming from a small brush fire burning on the hill below, near the west end of the neighborhood known as The Grid.

While regional fire crews quickly extinguished the blaze, it was enough to open Deinken’s eyes a bit wider.

“You just wonder, had it been a month from now and had the wind been going, you know, what would have happened?” Deinken said. “It’s a wake-up call for us, and this weekend we plan clear up the brush in our yard for defensible space.”

The fire started at about 3 p.m. Tuesday in a dense forest area at the west end of Rainbow Avenue, said North Tahoe Fire Protection District Public Information Officer Dave Zaski.

It was quickly contained at 20 feet by 20 feet. No one was hurt, and no structures were damaged.

“Thankfully, the vigilance of the neighbors who called 911 so quick helped, that’s huge,” Zaski said.

Crews from North Tahoe Fire, North Lake Tahoe Fire (Incline Village), Calfire and the U.S. Forest Service responded to the fire. Officials were unsure as of press time Thursday if the fire occurred on state or federal land.

NT Fire and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office were investigating the cause as of Thursday afternoon.

“It could have been human-caused, we’re not sure yet,” Zaski said.

On Thursday, PCSO Capt. Jeff Ausnow said the fire was “odd” in nature.

“It’s odd considering the location it started. Did someone throw a cigarette, or did someone deliberately start a fire? We don’t know,” he said. “We’re looking into it at this time to determine that it wasn’t some sort of arson, or to ensure there wasn’t an attempt at arson.”

Anyone with information about the fire should call PCSO at 530-581-6300.

The incident should serve as a reminder for residents and second-home owners to perform defensible space, Deinken said, considering the very dry conditions currently in the Tahoe/Truckee area.

“It’s one of those things, we know it’s something we should do, but it’s always easy to put off,” Deinken said.

Defensible space is the buffer between a house and an oncoming wildfire, in which vegetation has been modified to reduce the threat. Ways to create defensible space include removing dead plants from your yard, cleaning up dead and dry pine needles and leaves and trimming trees to keep branches away from those on other trees.


An investigation earlier this summer concluded that “smoking materials” led to a mid-June fire that destroyed a Tahoe City home, Zaski said.

“We’re not sure if it was a cigarette or a cigar, but it was smoking materials that ignited a fire on an outside deck,” he said.

The early morning fire on June 19 occurred at 1895 Silver Tip Drive in the Talmont area of Tahoe City. The home’s lone occupant escaped with his dog; both were not hurt.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jul 18, 2013 08:03PM Published Jul 18, 2013 05:44PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.