Angora fire at Tahoe probe continues 2 years later
Investigators said they lack evidence to arrest a “person of interest” in a 2007 catastrophic wildfire on at south shore Lake Tahoe, but the case remains a high priority.
Wednesday marks the two-year anniversary of the blaze that destroyed 254 homes, caused $140 million in property damage and scorched 3,100 acres.
Bill Dillard, an investigator with the El Dorado County district attorney’s office, said he continues to follow up leads in the case.
“The fact that the tips have not panned out makes me more confident about the person of interest I have,” he said, declining to provide any details about the person.
Investigators think the Angora fire was caused by sparking embers from a campfire at a popular party spot near South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
But they don’t have probable cause to make an arrest yet because of a lack of evidence linking the person to the scene, Dillard said.
“There’s reasonable suspicion, which is a lower standard than probable cause,” he said. “But probable cause is hard to establish in wildfires because evidence burns up and there’s not a whole lot of witnesses.”
The district attorney’s office and U.S. Forest Service have spent hundreds of hours and sorted through hundreds of tips concerning who started the campfire near Seneca Pond.
High winds fanned flames and quickly moved the fire toward homes.
“The case remains a high priority to the district attorney (Vern Pierson) and he’s instructed me to actively investigate it,” Dillard said. “We’re open to any tips. We’re hopeful there can be an arrest eventually.”
Last year, a special panel created after the fire warned that another catastrophic blaze is imminent and recommended dozens of steps to stop it, from banning wood shingles to spending more than $100 million to improve the area’s water system.
The California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission also said federal and state disaster declarations were needed to jump-start tree-thinning and other efforts.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User