Fire danger still critical in basin |

Fire danger still critical in basin

Andrew Pridgen

As Labor Day weekend comes to a close and families ready to pack beach towels, fold-up chairs and sand pails into mothballs, there is still one way the Tahoe Basin could “heat up.”


Those who’ve passed the ubiquitous Smokey Bear signs denoting the level of fire danger may have noted in recent weeks that level is stark red reading “very high.”

Indeed, according to local officials from the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, “prime time fire season – is now.”

“We had a late winter and that was a good thing,” said NLTFPD battalion chief Greg McKay. “Right now through September or until the first precipitation – that’s when we’re on ‘high-alert.’ “

While summer wildfires have been rampant in the eastern part of the state – Elko County has suffered the 80,000-plus acre Suzie Fire, the 190,000-plus-acre Charleston complex located 55 miles north of Elko and the still-active 22,813-acre Snow Canyon blaze – along with parts of Southern California, Oregon and Montana, the Tahoe Basin, thus far, has remained unscathed.

“People think, ‘well, summer’s over and we can relax a little’,” McKay said. “That’s when we get worried.

Among the largest fire complexes in the area was the Sierra-Tahoe Complex of 16 fires that broke out in late June, including the Linehan fire which encompassed almost 5,900 acres in Carson City, Storey and Lyon counties.

The total cost to combat those fires was $1.8 million, including $650,000 for the Linehan fire.

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