North Tahoe, Meeks Bay fire districts suspend open burning, recreational fires

Submitted to the Tribune

MEEKS BAY, Calif. — With residential burn permits already suspended in the Tahoe Basin, the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, Meeks Bay Fire Protection District and Alpine Springs County Water District are suspending outdoor burning of solid fuels, including wood and charcoal. The suspension takes effect Wednesday, June 1, and lasts until the ban is lifted.

Following the adoption of the 2019 Fire Code, only natural gas or propane outdoor fire pits and barbecues, and pellet grills/smokers are allowed year-round except during red flag/critical fire weather conditions. All of these appliances must be utilized following manufacturer’s recommendations. Open-flame devices such as tiki torches and all fireworks, including sparklers and firecrackers, are illegal in California year-round. For reports of hazardous/illegal campfires, people should call 911, and illegal firework activity should be reported to local law enforcement.

“Following the driest January through March on record, we are left facing dry fuels early in the season with above-normal fire activity expected in the region,” said NTFPD Fire Chief Steve Leighton. “We ask our residents and visitors to follow our seasonal ban on the outdoor burning of wood and charcoal, in addition to doing the work that makes homes resistant to embers to help us protect this beautiful place. Our firefighters have been working hard this spring to train and prepare for the fire season, but as we witnessed last year in Christmas Valley, it takes all of us working together throughout the season to make Tahoe Wildfire Ready.”

During red flag/critical fire weather conditions, all sources of open flames, including natural gas or propane outdoor fire pits and barbecues, and pellet grills/smokers are prohibited. Red flag watches and warnings of critical fire weather in the Tahoe Basin are issued by the National Weather Service, Reno.

“The National Weather Service will issue a fire weather watch roughly 3-5 days in advance of critical fire weather conditions, including strong winds and low humidity,” said Chris Smallcomb, NWS warning coordination meteorologist/public information officer. “Once confidence levels are high enough, this is upgraded to a red flag warning, usually 1-3 days in advance. Our fire service partners use the alerts to help guide staffing and resource decisions not just locally but over regional and multi-state areas.”

NTFPD asks residents to prepare for wildfire by maintaining a minimum of 100 feet of defensible space around every structure.

“Residents can increase the survivability of homes and neighborhoods from wildfire by managing vegetation and retrofitting structures to be more resistant to both surface fires and ember showers,” said NTFPD Fire Marshal Brent Armstrong. “We encourage residents to sign up for our no-cost defensible space inspections, and no-cost residential curbside chipping.”

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Source: North Tahoe Fire Protection District

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