Defensible space focus of workshop |

Defensible space focus of workshop

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

A wildfire roars toward a home on Kingsbury Grade. Firefighters are at the scene, but brush, dry grass and stacked logs surround the house and leave it without defensible space.

Firefighters need that space — which can range from 30 to 100 feet — to get in, fight the fire and protect the home. The nearly 700-acre Gondola fire last summer threatened homes on Kingsbury Grade, forcing evacuations.

The concept of defensible space is being emphasized by groups such as the Tahoe Basin Fire Safe Council, which is working to promote Wildfire Awareness Week, May 5 to May 11, in California.

“It’s up to each of us to give fire personnel a fighting chance to save our homes,” said Jennifer Arrowsmith, fire safe council administrator.

The wet April we experienced got us “out of the woods,” as far as dealing with a high level of fire danger this year, said Dave Marlow, U.S. Forest Service fuels and vegetation manager. But a near normal level of fire danger still requires people to be extra careful when they have a campfire, smoke or are doing anything else that could spark a forest fire.

“It depends on how fast (the snow) melts off and how warm the temperature will get the next few months here at Tahoe,” Marlow said. “The later precipitation brought the moisture level near normal, but we had a couple of years of drought prior to this. People still need to be very careful with fire no matter where they go in the woods.”

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According to the National Interagency Fire Center, located in Boise, Idaho, the 2002 fire season brought with it more than 88,000 fires, charred 4.2 million acres and burned 815 structures. The fires cost $1.6 billion to fight.

Fire education continues this month on May 13 and 14 with the National Fire Safe Council Conference and Fire Wise Workshop at Tahoe City. Citizens can register to attend either the conference or workshop. To register, go to or call Jill Rushing at (323) 866-6049.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at