Fire restrictions begin Monday |

Fire restrictions begin Monday

Gregory Crofton

U.S. Forest Service fire restrictions start Monday in the Lake Tahoe Basin in an effort to prevent a wildfire from starting in increasingly hot and dry conditions.

The restrictions ban things such as smoking in the forest and starting a wood or charcoal campfire outside of an established pit or ring. Abandoned or illegal campfires are the No.1 cause of wildfires in the basin.

“Between 70 and 80 wildfires happen in the basin every year, yet most go unnoticed due to quick response,” said Rex Norman, Forest Service public affairs officer. “But an illegal or abandoned campfire made in a remote, hard-to-reach area can lead to disastrous results, as we saw with the recent Waterfall fire above Carson City.”

The Waterfall fire destroyed 15 homes and burned 8,700 acres before it was contained.

The restrictions to take effect next week do not apply to campfires at developed campgrounds, including Zephyr Cove, Nevada Beach, Fallen Leaf Lake, Bayview, Meeks Bay and Meeks Bay Resort, Kaspian and William Kent.

But campfires are banned at more natural campsites, called dispersed sites, that include: Watson Lake, Blackwood Canyon, Buck Lake areas. Camp stoves are permitted in these areas. Campfires are also banned in Meiss Meadows, backcountry along the Tahoe Rim Trail and Desolation Wilderness.

The restrictions will likely remain in place until late October or November depending on when the weather changes. A violation of the restrictions can result in a $5,000 fine and/or six months in jail. A business could face a fine of up to $10,000.

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