Fire chief warns of danger |

Fire chief warns of danger

Lake Valley Fire Chief Brian Schafer called immediately for wildland protection when downed power lines were reported Monday afternoon in a Meyers neighborhood.

Firefighters found no fire but exercised caution because fire danger at South Shore remains extremely high despite the clouds, sporadic rains and cooler temperatures of the last two weeks.

Schafer said fine fuels, such as grass and pine needles, are at .5 percent moisture; and larger fuels, like downed trees, are at about 7 percent. He said they should be at 25 percent this time of year.

“Fine fuels are even more critical to how fire burns, fine fuels affect fires igniting,” Schafer said. “You don’t start a fire with a log, you start it with kindling.”

Schafer said the Martis Fire, which started in June, months before the typical September-October fire season in California, is proof that the large fuels are very dry very early in the season.

Since June, weekly brush fires at South Shore have proven that fire danger in the basin is not a myth.

Over the weekend, Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District reported two small brush fires: one sparked by fireworks, the other by a discarded cigarette.

“Even though the temperatures and humidity has helped, it doesn’t reduce the fire hazard,” said Tahoe-Douglas Fire Assistant Chief Bruce Van Kleemput. “Fuels are still very flammable. We’re still getting a number of incidents.”

Fire restrictions, which limits fire to developed campgrounds, have been in effect since the end of June. The exceptions to the rule are U.S. Forest Service cabins, which are numerous in the basin.

“They are owned by the public and deemed to be safe,” said U.S. Forest Fire Management Officer Mark Johnson.”We do not have a history of fire starting from those sites. We do have a significant amount of escaped campfires at undeveloped campsites starting wildland fires.”

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