Investigators work on clues |

Investigators work on clues

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Fire investigators say they are looking into several leads of how the Gondola Fire started and who ignited the 670-acre blaze.

United States Forest Service Special Agent Dave Cotter, who has been examining fires since 1975, is heading the investigation and expects information to be released this week.

Cotter is interviewing witnesses who were near the start of the fire, which ignited Wednesday beneath the Heavenly ski resort’s gondola.

Fire officials have said the blaze, which threatened Kingsbury Grade buildings and caused voluntary evacuations of nearly 5,000 people, is human caused. So far, “carelessly discarded smoking material” has been labeled as the blame.

“We’re going to pursue all leads until we identify the responsible individual or we run out of leads,” Cotter said. “We might be in for a couple of days or we might be working for a couple of months. We have a lot of footwork.”

The fire, now under full containment, is expected be completely controlled today at 6 p.m., a fire incident report stated. Fire headquarters at the California Lodge at Heavenly Ski Resort was being packed up Monday. The current costs for the fire are $2.6 million and are expected to rise to $3 million.

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