More smoke expected at Lake Tahoe from prescribed high country burns
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A big orange glow accompanied by smoke Monday afternoon caught some South Shore residents off guard.
Smoke from US Forest Service prescribed burns along the northern ridge above Caples Creek blanketed the Meyers and South Lake Tahoe communities and more is expected over the next several days, according to a press release from the Eldorado National Forest.
Fire management staff are continuing to burn in the high country as part of a multi-year 8,800 acre prescribed fire within the Caples Ecological Restoration Project.
The smoke will generally be heavier in the mornings after the air cools and settles at night, said the release.
Crews are currently using hand ignition and burning toward the west to create blackline approximately 300 feet wide that will be used to control prescribed fire within the center of the Caples Creek watershed.
The goal of the burn operation is to reach the end of the ridge and tie into a dozer line that extends to the 10N30 road before the wind event that is predicted for Tuesday evening.
The Caples Prescribed Fire is at 7,500 feet in elevation.
Conditions in the project area are cooler and more moist than the area below 6,000 feet where a red flag warning is in effect for Tuesday evening through Thursday.
Although the recent snow has melted, fuel moistures continue to be above normal and the Caples Prescribed Fire is burning slowly in dead and dry fuels, successfully meeting the fuel reduction objectives of the project.
Pile burning along the ridge began last Monday Sept. 30 in wet conditions with snow and rain. These piles were created from hand thinning that was done over the last several years. Since last Monday, approximately 100 acres of burning has been accomplished.
There are six fire crews assigned to the Caples Prescribed Fire, the Iron Mountain hand crews from the Eldorado National Forest, the Los Padres Hot Shots and additional crews from the Modoc, Shasta-Trinity, Stanislaus and Plumas national forests.
Five engines from the Eldorado National Forest are assisting with the prescribed fire, with three of the engines available to respond to others fires if needed.
Due to the active prescribed fire operations in progress, hiking on the Caples Creek Trail is not recommended, and a formal trail closure is being considered.
The Caples Ecological Restoration Project is restoring fire to the Caples Creek watershed where naturally occurring wildfires started by lighting have been suppressed since 1908.
The Caples Creek watershed includes some of the last remaining old growth in the Eldorado National Forest and provides a primary water supply for 110,000 people in the El Dorado Irrigation District (EID) service area. Approximately 425 acres have been burned in the project area overall since October 2017.
Smoke sensitive individuals are encouraged to reduce their exposure by avoiding smoky areas, closing windows, or staying indoors.
At a later stage of the project, aerial ignition will be used to accomplish the majority of the prescribed burns in the Caples Creek watershed when control lines surrounding the watershed have been established.
Silver Fork Road and Caples Creek will be used to manage prescribed fire in the watershed during the first aerial ignition phase.
The southern portion of the watershed will be burned in a second major aerial ignition phase of the project which will extend to the watershed boundary along Highway 88.
Updates on the Caples Prescribed Fire will be posted on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/eldoradoNF.
For more information about the Caples Ecological Restoration Project, please visit the project pages on the forest website.