Chief’s Corner: Wildfire season safety tips, can your ashes

Brad Zlendick
Guest column

Studies have shown human ignition is to blame for 84% of all wildfires in the United States, and 97% of all those that threaten homes. Wildfire history in the Tahoe Basin is no exception.

Brad Zlendick

witnessed by the Angora Fire in the Lake Valley Fire Protection District in June 2007, a small illegal campfire escaped and burned 254 homes. With warmer temperatures and low precipitation over the past several winters, conditions are ideal for increased risk of wildfire this summer. Human carelessness is avoidable. Visit to learn more about wildfire prevention and preparedness.

Fire agency personnel urge you to practice the following general outdoor cooking and warming fire-safety precautions this summer:

●Know before you light an outdoor warming or cooking fire and obtain a permit if necessary. Federal, state and local governments have different regulations. Know if you are on federal, state or private land. To determine the fire agency that has jurisdiction in your area, go to

●While the fire is burning, be sure there is a responsible person in attendance at all times. Never leave children around any fire unattended.

●Properly shut down or turn off all barbecues and gas fire pits.

●Can Your Ashes. For pellet or charcoal fires, allow ashes to completely cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a covered metal container. Containers are available from your local hardware store, South Tahoe Refuse or Lake Valley Station 7. Keep the container at least 10 feet away from the home and other buildings. Drop off your ashes at Lake Valley Station 7 in Meyers or South Tahoe Refuse center. Do not dispose of hot ash in the trash or in the woods.

●For campfires, use the “drown, stir and feel” method: drown a camp fire with water, then stir around the fire area with your shovel to wet any remaining embers and ash. Be sure to turn wood and coals over and wet all sides. Move some dirt onto the fire site and mix thoroughly to fully smother it. And finally, feel the area with the back of your hand to ensure nothing is still smoldering.

●And always call 911 at the first sight of a wildfire.

Several fire restrictions in the Lake Tahoe Basin have already begun in some jurisdictions and will remain in effect until the official end of fire season. Know the regulations. Be informed and most importantly enjoy your Tahoe summer safely with family and friends.

“Chief’s Corner” is a regular feature from Lake Tahoe Basin Fire Chiefs, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics. Brad Zlendick is the Fire Chief of the Lake Valley Fire Protection District. If you have any questions, please contact Chief Zlendick or Fire Marshal Chad Stephen at 530-577-3737.

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