Slink Fire grows but evacuations lifted, Highway 395 open; Officials say smoke may return to Tahoe |

Slink Fire grows but evacuations lifted, Highway 395 open; Officials say smoke may return to Tahoe

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Highway 395 has reopened after almost a full day of being closed and residents in Coleville and Walker have been allowed back in their homes after being threatened by the Slink Fire which has grown to 14,200 acres.

Residents in those towns were evacuated Monday after the lightning-caused blaze started Saturday evening southwest of Topaz Lake, about 45 miles away from Lake Tahoe. It is now burning in the Slinkard Valley, 2 miles west of Coleville.

Evacuees were directed to the Topaz Lodge in southern Douglas County.

The fire is 10% contained and officials hope to have full containment by Sunday, Sept. 20. There are 466 people fighting the fire.

Officials said air operations have been a challenge for the Slink Fire due to dense smoke creating poor visibility in the last few days. On Tuesday, however, clearer air gave aircraft the opportunity to engage in firefighting efforts for the entire operational shift. Several retardant drops were made by heavy air tankers, single engine air tankers and very large air tankers. 

Because of the proximity to the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, near Bridgeport off Highway 108, Marine Corps personnel have offered assistance to the fire. They are being utilized in several ways to support the fire camp and logistical needs. 

“The cooperation between the Marine Corps and the incident management team has been outstanding,” said Scott Fraser, Sierra Front Team 2 incident commander. “They have been a valuable asset and we greatly appreciate their help. When we have needed anything, we didn’t even have to ask, they were already doing it.”

The National Weather Service in Reno says smoke from the fire may impact air quality at Lake Tahoe. Northeast to east winds are expected to ease, allowing smoke and haze to impact much of Alpine and Mono counties and it could potentially make its way into the Tahoe Basin.

The North Complex, three major fires managed as one, located about two hours northwest of Lake Tahoe is at about 65,000 acres. The complex overall is about 40% contained.

NWS says smoke impacts at Tahoe later in the week are uncertain and depend on fire activity. Light west winds are likely to return for Wednesday and Thursday, which may allow smoke and haze from the Northern California wildfires to seep back into the eastern Sierra and Western Nevada.

NWS officials are more certain that a heat wave will hit the region beginning on Thursday.

Lake Tahoe will be in the mid 80s on Thursday through the weekend with the lows in the mid to high 50s. On Monday, Labor Day, the high is expected to reach 82.

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