Basin fills with smoke |

Basin fills with smoke

Gregory Crofton

Southerly winds clouded the Lake Tahoe Basin on Wednesday with smoke from the Darby fire, a 12,000-acre blaze near Avery, Calif., on State Route 4.

More than 3,000 people are fighting the fire, which started Sept. 5 and is 65 percent contained. It is expected to be 100 percent contained Friday by 6 p.m.

“We have determined that it is human caused, but we’re not sure if it’s an accident or arson,” said Annette Roessler, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Also contributing to the haze around the lake is the Star fire, a nearly 17,000-acre blaze that is expected to be contained today at 6 p.m. The eastern edge of the Star fire is about 20 miles west of Lake Tahoe.

It started on the Middle Fork of the American River almost directly north of Pollock Pines on Aug. 27. The Star fire has consumed a patch of land that’s eight miles long and four miles wide, said Brian Morris, fire information officer for the U.S. Forest Service.

An earlier prediction stated that the fire would be 100 percent contained by Tuesday. Officials changed their estimate after 800 of the firefighters battling the Star Fire were ordered north of Truckee to fight the Treasure fire, a 282-acre blaze southeast of Sierraville. It started Monday at 6 p.m. but by Wednesday evening firefighters had it fully contained.

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