Fire May Take Tahoe Nevada State Park |

Fire May Take Tahoe Nevada State Park

Gregory Crofton

Fire crews were called to the top of Spooner Summit on Highway 50 Thursday night as the Waterfall fire continued to burn 2.5 miles northeast of the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Known as strike teams, the crews will be assigned to combat the fire if it should reach the Lake Tahoe Basin. There is about a 50 percent chance of it entering the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, said Dave Morrow, administrator of the Nevada Division of State Parks.

A mandatory evacuation was ordered on Wednesday for the 14,000 acre park, which sits between Lake Tahoe and Carson City. The order will remain in effect until the behavior of the fire changes and there is no threat to the public, Morrow said.

Firefighters on Thursday worked to decrease the chances of fire cresting a ridge and entering the park at Hobart Reservoir, located outside of the Lake Tahoe Basin parallel with Sand Harbor and to the east of the Flume trail.

The Hobart Reservoir area of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park contains 4,000 to 6,000 acres of overcrowded timber stands.

“There is heavy fuel loading and very dry conditions,” Morrow said. “There have been extensive efforts … in forest thinning in North Canyon around Spooner. It’s in a lot better shape than the Hobart area.”

“What we’ve been doing so far are things to be proactive,” Morrow said. “We closed the backcountry and closed Spooner, keeping people from accessing the rim trail and the Flume trail or any other part of backcountry.”

At 2 p.m. on Thursday the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit estimated the fire was 2.5 miles east of the basin, but rising winds were causing concern, said Marie Bledsoe, a public affairs officer for the agency.

Even without fire in the basin, Carson City and Tahoe are linked. Tahoe gets some of its electricity from Carson.

“One concern includes the power lines to Tahoe, (the firefighters) are watching that,” said Christie Kalkowski, a fire information officer for the Waterfall fire. “That’s one larger concern in addition to Carson City watersheds, timber and wildlife.”

Guards at the Spooner entrance of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, off State Route 28 on the East Shore, turned away visitors Thursday because of the fire danger. One couple drove from Squaw to the park gate hoping to train for the 50-mile Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Run, scheduled Saturday.

“What about Saturday? I came from Florida,” Mike Melton, 46, from Jensen Beach, Fla. “I spent $1,500 to run this race.”

Melton, accompanied by Karen Guenther, 46, of Sebastopol, said he signed up for the race after learning about it from a Web site.

“I guess I’m out of luck,” Melton said. “We’re going to go run south of the rim trail. At least we’ll get some running in.”

Tahoe Mountain Milers Running Club organized the run, which is expected to draw around 300. Kevin Bigley, co-director of the event, said he expected to know whether the race would have to be canceled sometime today.

“We don’t know at this point. We’re trying to work with state parks to find an alternative for us,” Bigley said. “We’re looking for something that is safe, that doesn’t compromise the runner or the firefighters. It’s unlikely we’ll get to do 50 miles … we might end up doing a 50k, which is 31 or 32 miles.”

To find out about the status of the event, visit the Web site or call David Cotter (530) 545-0045.

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at

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