CalSTAR alerts officials to Showers Fire |

CalSTAR alerts officials to Showers Fire

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Crew on an air ambulance were the first to report the Showers Fire to officials. They alerted fire crews at 11:15 a.m. as they flew home from a call near Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

Pete Kinney, a Cal Star helicopter pilot, and flight nurse Brian Pond spotted smoke about 1,000 feet below them as they flew back to their home base at Lake Tahoe Airport.

“We saw the smoke. It was about an acre,” Kinney said. “There was moderate fuel and a slow rate of spread, but winds were increasing.”

Neither crew member saw any signs of a plane crash. All they could see was smoke.

Kinney and Pond also were first to report the Gondola Fire, a 673-acre blaze started near the Heavenly gondola on July 3. It was sparked by a carelessly discarded cigarette, but no one has been charged with the crime.

The Showers Fire is the fourth fire Cal Star has spotted this summer.

“We just need to start carrying a bunch of water with us,” Pond said.

They recorded wind gusts as high as 35 knots during the flight. Several hours later, fire attacks by smoke jumpers and air tankers were canceled because of high winds, but helicopters were able to make water drops.

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