Firefighters win battle against Showers fire |

Firefighters win battle against Showers fire

Jeff Munson, Tahoe Daily Tribune
Dan Thrift, Tahoe Daily TribuneAnthony Carr, the engineer of engine 5 from the Lake Valley Fire Protection District, watches as a helicopter passes over Tuesday during a lunch break. Carr and many members of the LVFPD spent the night on State Highway 89 near Luther Pass extinguishing spot fires across the highway from the Showers fire.

With cooler temperatures and an army of 470 firefighters, crews Tuesday night fully contained the 384-acre Shower fire, which was ignited when a small airplane crashed into a mountainside near Luther Pass, killing two people.

A team of investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration toured the crash and fire area Tuesday morning, but could not confirm the identity of the aircraft’s passengers.

An FAA spokesman said the pilot had not submitted a flight plan, and that he was not sure whether the plane was arriving or departing from the Lake Tahoe Airport.

Firefighters were able to get an upper hand on the Shower fire early Tuesday, setting lines around the fire’s perimeter.

“The status is that it is holding the established lines and the crews are now concentrating on spot activity,” said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman.

Because of smoky conditions, Highway 89 from Highway 50 to Picketts Junction was closed throughout the day, opening at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday with electronic advisory signs warning of the smoky conditions.

“It’s safer, (because we’re) not expecting the same amount of smoke we had last night,” Joanne Roubique, a spokeswoman for the Forest Service said.

Fourteen hand crews from the Plumas County hotshot team fought back the blaze Monday night and continued their efforts as it made a dramatic shift northeast Tuesday morning.

Fire crews staged two perpendicular lines across the Hawley Grade Trail between the Upper Truckee River and Meadow Creek. The terrain located near Elbert Lake is steep and remote.

Other firefighters, like Lake Valley firefighter Ron Sitton, stood guard along Highway 89 where the fire had threatened to cross the road.

“I was chasing spot fires across the road all night that I wish my feet could tell stories,” Sitton said. “The winds switched directions after midnight (Monday) so (the incident commander who) decided to get this stopped at the road was right on.”

Fellow Lake Valley firefighter Anthony Carr said the real action overnight was to keep the fire from crossing the highway.

“It was very interesting. Very spotty. The fight was right here” on Highway 89, Carr said.

No homes are threatened, but the fire did force a voluntary evacuation Monday of about a dozen homes in the Bridge Tract area near Grass Lake Road, the last street leading up to Luther Pass.

Contained at 8 p.m., the Showers fire was classified as Type 2, which means the fire was serious enough to warrant extra personnel but that no homes are immediately threatened.

The 673-acre Gondola fire that burned near Heavenly Ski Resort on July 3-4 was classified as Type 1.

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