Lightning starts numerous fires | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lightning starts numerous fires

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Lightning strikes started 12 fires at or around the Lake Tahoe Basin on Friday afternoon.

Rain, minimal wind and extra resources available from the Gondola Fire allowed U.S. Forest Service firefighters to contain the single-tree fires quickly, said Kit Bailey, fire management officer at the basin.

The lightning-laced storm dropped sporadic bursts of rain, but the moisture has not decreased fire danger at the basin, Bailey said. Conditions remain high to extreme with a ban on campfires, combustion engines and smoking in forested areas at the basin.

“The rain didn’t help; it only had a temporary impact,” Bailey said. “Twelve hours of drying and we’re right back where we were before.”

Weather forecasts predicted the strikes, which enabled the Forest Service to have extra people and equipment on hand to attack the fires. The largest of the fires, at Angora Ridge, spread to a quarter of an acre before Forest Service, Lake Valley and South Lake Tahoe firefighters extinguished it.

About 50 men and women from the Forest Service worked from the first lightning strike at 3 p.m. and went until the last fire in the basin was contained Saturday at 10 a.m. Patrols are still monitoring the burned areas, Bailey said.

Fires burned all around the South Shore from Miller Lake, which is west of Sugar Pine State Park, south to Freel Peak and back up southeast with the Kingsbury fire. It wasn’t spotted until Saturday at 1 p.m. and burned two acres before it was extinguished, said Loretta Smith, Nevada Department of Forestry management assistant.

The Gondola Fire started on July 3 because of “carelessly discarded smoking material.” It didn’t damage the gondola, instead it spread east alongside Heavenly Ski Resort toward Tramway Drive. Wind gusts fueled the blaze despite constant water and retardant drops by helicopters and planes. The fire, contained three days after it started, cost about $3 million to fight. It is still being investigated.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com


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