By drill, fighting virtual fires at Tahoe |

By drill, fighting virtual fires at Tahoe

In a simulated reality, two fires are burning between Truckee and Lake Tahoe; one near Ponderosa Palisades, the other heading toward Kings Beach.

Called the Bald Fire and the Dear Fire, the blazes have consumed 30 acres and 1,000 acres, respectively, and are threatening numerous neighborhoods. Firefighters are working across a number of jurisdictions, with a number of complications from roadwork to a big bicycle ride.

This was the scenario facing a room full of officials Thursday, June 4, as part of a simulation exercise to help officials be better prepareed to work out the logistics of effectively fighting fire, evacuating those at risk and communicating the situation to the public.

And it’s no small task – those potentially on board trying to coordinate efforts include: the U.S. Forest Service; CalFire; a number of local fire departments between Truckee and Tahoe; local, state, and federal government representatives; law enforcement; Caltrans; the National Incident Management Organization; and the Emergency Operations Center.

But, by the end of the day, Forest Service Spokesperson Ann Westling said the drill helped everybody involved prepare for a summer wildfire.

“It was a great opportunity for the entire group to get reacquainted and better understand some of the issues, like road construction and associated traffic delays, various trigger points for evacuations, overlapping jurisdictions and the need for emergency information,” Westling said. “Everybody felt like it was a very successful day.”

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