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Caution critical in ridding area of dead wood

With prescribed fire comes smoke and the potential for residents of the Lake Tahoe Basin to be affected by it.

The U.S. Forest says it takes a number of precautions to decrease the impact of smoke created by its pile burning.

Precautions include: letting piles of slashed wood and brush dry for a least a year before burning them. Wetter piles create more smoke, said Rex Norman, spokesman at the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.



The agency also identifies smoke sensitive areas and limits the amount of burning at one time to reduce the impact of the smoke. If smoke from a burn is too powerful for a neighborhood, the Forest Service will reduce the number of piles being burned or extinguish the piles.

The weather is also a factor. Fire officials rely on wind to move the smoke out of the basin. The agency is only permitted to burn on days when state air quality agencies declare it is a safe day to burn.




“The fact that we are a basin with so much residential/forest mix, the normal amounts of smoke generated from routine pile burns have a greater potential for impacts than most other forest areas in our region,” Norman said. “We often must adjust to reduce the impacts of smoke.”

Dave Easton, a fire captain at the Forest Service, said recent pile burns near many homes on the north side of Pioneer Trail were watched closely.

“We had water to every pile before we had the pile lit,” Easton said. “Homes were there, so we took a great deal of precaution. It went very well.”


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