Fourth of July is celebrated, but Angora fire not forgotten
While tens of thousands of locals and visitors enjoyed their picnics, barbecues and Fourth of July day off from work, crews from the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies continued efforts to fully control the Angora fire.
Eleven days after the fire devastated the North Upper Truckee and Angora Ridge area of South Lake Tahoe, and two days after officials declared it 100 percent contained, dozens of firefighters continued to douse hot spots on the ground and underneath it — mainly roots and stumps — said Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman. It may take weeks to completely snuff out the embers, fire officials said.
The worst fire in Tahoe’s history destroyed 254 homes, displaced 3,500 residents, burned 3,100 acres and left more $160 million in damage.
As of early evening, the holiday was proceeding without any major problems. Thousands made their way to Tahoe’s famed beaches. Grocery and specialty stores were busy and restaurants and bars were packed. Highway 50 was clogged at peak times, especially around dusk, as many made their way to find prime spots to watch the fireworks display.
But underneath the holiday celebration and 90-degree sun, devastation and loss were still on the minds of many.
“The air is clear but that doesn’t override the tragedy of this,” said Nevada City resident Richard Larive, who has spent the last nine Fourth of July holidays at El Dorado Beach playing guitar for tips. “The smoke is gone and you wouldn’t know there was a fire down there, but it’s hard not to know.”
Walking to El Dorado Beach with infant in tow, South Lake Tahoe residents Keith and Teri Daviar said there was less Highway 50 traffic than on bustling summer weekends, but the beaches were packed, which is a good sign, they said.
With South Lake Tahoe’s economy so reliant on Fourth of July visitors, the fact the holiday fell midweek may account for less-than-stellar visitor counts, the couple said. Still, the fire and its destructive path remain fresh on the minds of most everyone, they said.
“We banded together. I think everyone knows someone who lost a home,” Teri Daviar said.
Questions remain. Will it happen again? And if so, where?
“I feel vulnerable,” Keith Daviar said.