Lake Tahoe fire restrictions and fire prevention tips

Submitted to the Tribune

With California and Nevada experiencing moderate to extreme drought conditions, it is crucial to exercise utmost caution in Lake Tahoe this year. Residents and visitors should be aware of fire restrictions in their area.

Wood and Charcoal: Currently wood fires, bonfires, campfires, and charcoal fires (including charcoal BBQs) are not allowed anywhere in Lake Tahoe, including all developed National Forest campgrounds, day use sites, and beaches.

Wood and charcoal campfires are allowed in developed hosted California State Park campgrounds, except during Red Flag warnings.

Gas and Propane: Gas and propane firepits and grills as well as pellet smokers are allowed in Lake Tahoe unless there is a Red Flag Warning (as declared by the National Weather Service Reno).

Red flag warnings in Lake Tahoe

Red Flag warnings occur during particularly dangerous weather conditions in which wildfires can rapidly ignite and spread. During Red Flag events, open flame is strongly discouraged however federal, local, and state enforcement codes, laws, ordinances and/or restrictions banning open flames may apply. Check with your local authorities. If you see an illegal fire or wildfire, call 911.

Additional fire prevention tips

Use Equipment Responsibly: Use equipment such as lawn mowers, weed-eaters, chain saws, grinders, welders, tractors, and trimmers responsibly as they can spark a wildfire.

Mow before 10 a.m., but never when it’s windy or excessively dry. Do not mow weeds or dry grass, and use caution, as metal blades striking rocks can create sparks.

Use a spark arrester. Spark arresters are required on all portable gasoline-powered equipment. This includes tractors, harvesters, chainsaws, weed-eaters and mowers.

Use the recommended grade of fuel and don’t top it off.

Practice Vehicle Safety: Motorists are responsible for many of the wildfires sparked along roadways. Nearly all of these fire starts could be prevented by following these safety precautions:

Practice safe towing. Dragging chains throws sparks, so use appropriate safety pins and a hitch ball to secure chains.

Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained, with nothing dragging on the ground.

Maintain proper tire pressure. Driving on exposed wheel rims can create sparks.

Carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle and learn how to use it.

Avoid driving your vehicle onto dry grass or brush. Hot catalytic converters, exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires that you won’t see — until it’s too late!

Maintain your brakes. Brakes worn too thin may cause metal to metal contact, which can cause a spark.

Source: Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team

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