Fire burns on Upper Kingsbury near South Lake Tahoe; still not contained
STATELINE — A wildfire burning out of control east of South Lake Tahoe near the Heavenly Ski resort Wednesday has consumed more than 40 acres and about 200 people have been evacuated, officials are reporting.
The Gondola Fire began around 12:30 p.m. and spread from two acres to 25 in about an hour. Winds moved it north east toward the Nevada side of Heavenly Valley. It is now reported to be about 40 acres, said a El Dorado County Emergency Services spokesman.
The property burning straddles the California and Nevada border and belongs to the California Tahoe Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service. The fire was not at Heavenly Ski Resort as of 4:45 p.m.
There are 15 engines making a direct attack on the fire, said Bryan Schafer, chief of the Lake Valley Fire Protection District.
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“The fire is close under the gondola and is heading northeast toward the Nevada side of Heavenly Valley,” Schafer said. “Structures protected on Saddle Road on Kingsbury Grade are not immediately threatened.”
No structures have burned, officials said at 4:45 p.m. Equipment and personnel are moving into the fire, with more than 200 firefighters now at the scene attacking the fire, said Michael Chandler, South Lake Tahoe fire chief.
Tankers, bombers and helicopters dropped slurry and water on the flames, which are shooting up and spreading because embers are catching wind gusts moving in a north-easterly direction, officials said.
The areas of upper Kingsbury Grade, from East Benjamin Drive to the top of Daggett Summit were evacuated.
Evacuation was voluntary on the south and north sides of Kingsbury Grade, according to a police scanner report at 4:55 p.m. The governor is the only person who can declare mandatory evacuations. An Evacuation center is located on the Valley floor in Douglas County at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School in Gardnerville Ranchos.
The fire is moving away from the Stateline casino corridor in an easterly direction. It’s unclear if homes are immediately threatened.
Thousands of visitors are in town for the Fourth of July and traffic on Highway 50 is bumper-to-bumper. It is undetermined if Thursday night’s fireworks show will be canceled.
All available fire resources on both the Nevada and California sides were responding, as well as fire protection agencies from the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and fire agencies throughout the basin, Douglas County, Washoe County and Carson City.
At one point, 110 people on Heavenly’s gondola were trapped at the top of the gondola and on the lookout area. They were safely evacuated, said El Dorado County Commander for Office of Emergency Service.
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