Editorial: Welcome to Tahoe … now be careful | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Editorial: Welcome to Tahoe … now be careful

Summer tourists anticipating a long Fourth of July holiday have arrived, displacing the thick haze that blanketed the Tahoe Basin for much of the past week.

For many visitors, there’s little evidence of the dramatic events that gripped the region beginning last Sunday. Tahoe’s blue skies and famed transparent waters are bright and clear, leaving scant hint of the Angora fire that raged on the western outskirts of South Lake Tahoe. Although the clearing skies and improved fire situation are welcome relief to beleaguered South Shore residents, this is not the time for complacency.

We are days removed from one of the worst disasters to ever hit Tahoe. The economic toll is enormous — hundreds of homes destroyed, representing millions of dollars in losses and damages. Also singed is Tahoe’s reputation as a destination resort, creating a challenge for the local tourism industry to overcome just as the summer season kicks off. Environmental impacts to the forest and lake could linger for years.

Miraculously, no human lives were lost. The same cannot be said for the wildlife population and domestic animals in the scorched Tahoe neighborhoods.

And how does one measure the pain, grief and suffering for those families who lost homes and a lifetime’s worth of possessions?

The frightening truth — that the Angora fire could happen again at any time in the Tahoe-Truckee region — is further reason to maintain a serious approach to fire safety.

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With that in mind, we welcome those visitors who have traveled to our area, even as the last remnants of the Angora fire get snuffed out. Your presence in the community is reassuring that life and commerce will soon return to a semblance of normalcy.

Enjoy all that Tahoe and the Sierra have to offer, but remember the place referred to as “America’s playground” is not Disneyland. The environment, the landscape and the wildlife are real. Careless behavior causes real consequences.

Take the warnings seriously. Strictly observe campfire and fireworks restrictions. Don’t toss cigarette butts on the ground. Dispose of your barbecue ashes properly.

Go for a hike, relax with a mojito on the deck, visit our restaurants or try your luck at the casinos.

Welcome to Tahoe; just be careful out there.