Blaze over 50k acres; Officials confident in holding fire south of Highway 88

Miranda Jacobson
A view Thursday afternoon from the Ridge Tahoe. The basin has mostly escaped wildfire smoke but the Carson Valley is suffering. (Provided /

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Tamarack Fire continues to rage but so far it hasn’t crossed a key highway that would provide a greater threat to Lake Tahoe.

Officials said the fire has been active due to extremely dry fuels and grew by about 10,000 acres from Wednesday into Thursday. The blaze has grown to 50,129 based on infrared mapping. It’s 4% contained, the first bit of containment since the fire exploded out of control on Friday, July 16.

The active fire pushed northwest towards California State Route 88, but officials said firefighters kept the blaze south of the highway. Highway 88 remains closed at Pickett’s Junction, at the top of Woodfords Canyon and into Nevada.

“That’s a very steep, rugged terrain, and the fuels are very dry and those canyons can create really unstable winds,” LeClair said. “They have managed to hold it in that section [South of 88] for quite a few days. So they’re feeling pretty confident they can hold it there.”

Even if the fire jumps the highway, LeClair said South Lake Tahoe residents don’t need to worry, yet, due to the amount of terrain the fire would need to eat before it reaches the basin.

“There’s still quite a bit of country between there [the current location of the fire and South Lake Tahoe],” LeClair said. “Obviously, we would be communicating closely with the officials in the area.”

Officials said crews will continue to strengthen established firelines and protect structures in Sierra Pines, Woodfords, Mesa Vista, Markleeville and Grover Hot Springs.

Highway 88 is closed in the fire area along with California State Route 89, except to incident personnel.

The fire on its east side is causing all kinds of havoc after it recently crossed into Nevada and Douglas County.

More than 800 people have received evacuation notices, and at least 500 buildings are threatened, fire officials said.

“Uncontrolled fire with extreme fire behavior continues to be a threat to surrounding communities, public, and firefighters,” officials said.

Firefighters have been working day and night to protect structures with the objective of full suppression and firefighter safety.

U.S. Highway 395 is closed from China Spring Road to the Nevada-California stateline, and at 395 and SR208.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is providing escorts for the public through the road closure from China Springs Road to the Nevada/California stateline on Highway 395. But officials remind motorists that the road is subject to full closure at anytime.

These escorts allow for travel north or south between Gardnerville, SR 208, and the stateline.

The Alpine County Sheriff’s Office lifted the mandatory evacuation order for the Hung A Lel Ti Community, for Tribal members only.

Liberty Utilities started work this week on restoring power to the affected communities.

There are over 1,200 personnel working on the fire, and more resources have been ordered. Fighting the fire has reached a cost of $5 million, according to a Record Courier report on Wednesday.

For More Information about the fire, call 775-434-8629 or email

Information can be found online at the following links.





Correction: This article has been updated with the correct number of evacuation notices people had received at that time.

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