July 4 fire near gondola quickly extinguished | TahoeDailyTribune.com

July 4 fire near gondola quickly extinguished

Elaine Goodman / Tahoe Daily Tribune

A small brush fire under the Heavenly Mountain Resort gondola on Saturday afternoon was quickly snuffed out by firefighters, but rekindled memories of the more serious Gondola fire of 2002.

Callers reported smoke and flames near the base of gondola Tower 14 about 2 p.m. on Saturday, said Marty Scheuerman, South Lake Tahoe Fire division chief of operations.

Firefighters initiated a full response and arrived to find a smoldering area about 20-by-20 feet in size, Scheuerman said.

Two hand crews extinguished the fire, with help from a firefighting helicopter that dropped two buckets of water on it.

The fire could have been more severe if conditions had been more typical of July, which often sees dry fuels and high winds, Scheuerman said.

“It had potential,” Scheuerman said.

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The July 4 fire brought back memories of the Gondola fire that started on July 3, 2002. That blaze began near gondola Tower 11, consumed 672 acres and forced evacuations.

The 2002 Gondola fire was started by a discarded cigarette, investigators have said.

The cause of Saturday’s fire remained under investigation.