Emerald Fire caused by illegal campfire in state park

Ashleigh Goodwin /
The Emerald Fire was contained at one quarter of an acre.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — An illegal campfire in a state park at Lake Tahoe was the cause of the Emerald Fire, officials said on Monday.

Cal Fire Spokesperson Diana Swart said the wildfire in Emerald Bay State Park, “was a fire pit having been made out of rocks, not within a proper campground.”

The fire was reported at about 7:15 a.m. Friday near the mouth of Emerald Bay and was visible from across the lake. Multiple agencies responded along with the lead agency Cal Fire, including Meeks Bay Fire, North Tahoe Fire, South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue, Lake Valley Fire, Forest Service, State Parks and El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.

Firefighters kept the blaze to one quarter of an acre. By 9:30 a.m. forward progression of the fire was stopped and by 2:30 p.m. the blaze was 100% contained.

Fire districts around Lake Tahoe since June 1 have banned wood and charcoal fires. State Parks do not have the same restrictions much to the displeasure of local fire districts. Wood and charcoal fires are only allowed in state parks within agency-provided fire rings or designated sites.

The Tribune recently reported that legislation is moving forward, Senate Bill 1012, that would force state parks to have policies that are at least as restrictive as the rules adopted by local fire districts.

No suspects have been identified for sparking the Emerald Fire and Swart said it would be difficult to find any without help from the community. Cal Fire offers a tip line (1-800-468-4408) and encourages the community to report if they see something they feel is suspicious.

While it is difficult often to prove negligence after the fact, social media posts could be used to prosecute.

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