Smoke from Caples Fire lingering at Lake Tahoe, but forest service expects containment this week
Smoke from the Caples Fire continues to linger at Lake Tahoe Sunday although the blaze was mostly quiet overnight.
The Eldorado National Forest reported Sunday that the prescribed burn-turned-wildfire in the Kirkwood area is at 2,885 acres and 35% contained. It remains within the boundaries of a burn project that began Sept. 30 with pile burning.
The forest service said fire activity could increase this afternoon as the temperature warms.
But with 572 total personnel fighting the blaze, including 26 engines, 17 crews, five water tenders, three helicopters and two dozers, the forest service said on its incident web page that Friday, Oct. 18, is the approximated estimated containment date.
While the smoke hangs around, the forest service encourages “smoke sensitive individuals” to limit their exposure by avoiding smoky areas, closing windows, or staying indoors.
The National Weather Service is forecasting widespread haze throughout the region until later in the evening when it becomes mostly clear with temperatures dropping in the 20s.
A 5 to 10 mph west/southwest wind may also help firefighting efforts according to the forest service.
“The natural wind patterns from the west/southwest are good for suppression actions,” said the report. “Temperatures are moderate during the day and the relative humidity is low. Night time temperatures are near freezing with light winds …”
Due to fire operations in the area, the forest service is asking hikers and hunters to avoid the Silver Fork/Caples Creek area. Roads are blocked at the following intersection: Packsaddle Pass and Silver Fork Road; Packsaddle Pass and 11N19; Mormon Emigrant Trail and Silver Fork Road; Martin Meadows, Margaret and Shealor Lake Trailheads and Schneider Camp.
The forest service started the burn project late last month following rain and snowstorms and the prescribed fire was within “prescription and achieving the goals of the project of reducing fuels loading and create vegetation conditions that allow fires to burn with lower intensities and create defensible space.”
The report said, once the red flag warning for the wind event was forecasted, fire managers began building fire line and conducting firing operations to secure and strengthen the fire perimeter before the wind arrived. The containment lines held well through the wind event into Thursday morning when the winds changed direction pushing the fire farther to the south and west and increasing the fire activity.
The increased activity forced the forest to declare a wildfire to obtain additional resources from partners like Cal Fire, the report said.