Fire restrictions eased at Tahoe; Forest service ban still in place |

Fire restrictions eased at Tahoe; Forest service ban still in place

Cheyanne Neuffer

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — This summer, both California and Nevada saw extreme wildfire conditions. California experienced historic wildfires with record acres burned. For many months of the summer, the basin sat under a layer of smoke and resources were spread thin fighting the catastrophic fires.

The National Weather Service in Reno declared a Red Flag Warning just days before a Winter Storm Warning was issued that brought in over a foot of snow in some areas of the basin.

“We no longer call it a fire season, we call it a fire year,” said Lisa Herron, Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit public affairs specialist. “Some of the biggest fires we’ve seen have been in November and December.”

The Camp Fire in Paradise, Butte County, California’s deadliest fire, began on Nov. 8 in 2018. It claimed 85 lives and injured several firefighters.

While statewide restrictions have expired, LTBMU’s ban on recreational fires, including campfires, bonfires, warming fires, wood fires, charcoal fires, or any other kind of outdoor fires in the Lake Tahoe/Truckee Region is still in effect until Nov. 30. The ban went into effect on Sept. 4.

Even with the snow from the weekend, officials urge people to remain vigilant throughout the year.

“We are seeing trends of less precipitation over the west,” said Herron.

She said that fire conditions that used to be typically in the summer months are stretching longer especially in places in lower elevations. Conditions are location specific and upper elevations are not as susceptible — due to more snow.

“We are seeing a decrease, but potential is still there in lower elevations,” Herron explained. “Most fires are human-caused.”

While recreational fires are still prohibited, fire and burn restrictions were lifted for the city and El Dorado County on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

A burn ban was ordered this summer by authorization of the local fire chiefs in order to lessen the threat of wildfire in the basin — charcoal barbeques, wood fire pits and open burning were prohibited.

During Red Flag conditions, the restriction further banned propane, natural gas barbecues and firepits.

South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue and Lake Valley Fire Protection District lifted the ban in the city and county areas with the recent snowfall.

For residents in the city: Charcoal barbecues and cooking fires are allowed. Natural gas or propane outdoor fire pits and barbecues, and pellet grills/smokers are allowed.

Solid fuel recreational/warming fires and open burns are not allowed.

For residents in the county: Charcoal barbecues and cooking fires are allowed. Natural gas or propane outdoor fire pits and barbecues, and pellet grills/smokers are allowed. Solid fuel recreational/warming fires are allowed in properly constructed or manufactured firepits.

Open burning is still suspended until further notice.

“Local South Lake Tahoe fire agency personnel appreciate your adherence to the recent fire restrictions,” said the press release. “We ask that you remain cognisant and report hazardous fires by dialing 911. We would also like to stress the importance of following manufacturer recommended instructions on the proper care and maintenance of your barbecues or firepits.”

For more information, contact South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue at 530-542-6160 or Lake Valley Fire Protection District 530-577-3737.

Around the lake, North Tahoe and Meeks Bay fire protection districts also eased restrictions. The use of fire pits and charcoal barbecues is allowed.

Cal Fire has not lifted the burn permit in El Dorado or Placer counties and residential door yard burning is not allowed.

Residents and visitors should expect to see smoke throughout the region as fire managers begin much needed prescribed fire operations, said a joint press release from the Meeks Bay and North Tahoe districts.

Locally within the NTFPD and MBFPD service areas, California State Parks with the assistance of Cal Fire, will begin burning 80 piles on four acres in the Sugar Pine Point State Park south of Tahoma beginning on Thursday, Nov. 12.

Pile burning will continue over the next several weeks in and around the campground, and across General Creek along the South Fire Rd.

Pile burning is also planned to begin at Burton Creek State Park (north of the Rocky Ridge Condominiums, and west of Burton Creek) later this month and will continue for several weeks.

For more information, call Meeks Bay Fire at 530-525-7548 or North Tahoe Fire at 530-583-6911.

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