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Gondola Fire contained

Lauren Halsted, Tahoe Daily Tribune
Dan Thrift\Tahoe Daily TribuneThe fire may have been started by a discarded cigarette butt.
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The Gondola Fire that burned more than 670 acres was declared 100-percent contained at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Forest Service investigators determined the Gondola fire, which threatened more than 550 structures, was caused by “carelessly discarded smoking material.”

The suppression cost is expected to approach $3 million.

“Weather and burning conditions combined allowing the fire to start and spread rapidly,” according to the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit reports.

Although thousands of people were affected by evacuations and hundreds of structures were threatened on Upper Kingsbury Grade, no injuries or damage to structures was reported.

The Forest Service expects the fire will be 100-percent controlled by 6 p.m. Tuesday.

However, “we will probably be watching (the fire) later than that. There are so many snags out there and anywhere in the basin,” said Keith Parker Sunday from the incident command post.

As of Sunday, snags and fallen logs continued to smolder within the fire perimeter, producing smoke visible from the Kingsbury and South Shore communities.

The 20-30 mph winds that initially fed the fire early, calmed down over the weekend, helping firefighters contain the blaze.

A major reason why the fire was quickly contained was because there were no other large fires in Northern California competing for resources, Parker said.

Nearly 1,700 personnel, mainly hand crews from the greater Northern California and Nevada areas and Oregon, battled the blaze.

“Whenever we have a big fire, we get crews from all over,” Parker said.

The lake itself also helped with containment efforts.

More than 300,000 gallons of water from Lake Tahoe were dumped on flames by a crew of six helicopters.

Water also came from Heavenly’s snowmaking equipment, the Kingsbury General Improvement District, fire hydrants and 5-gallon backpack pumps hiked in by firefighters.

“We used just about every tool to get water on this fire,” Parker said.

“The folks at Heavenly went way out of their way to help,” he added. “The support from the community has been outstanding.”


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