Smoke impacting Lake Tahoe; Tamarack Fire containment at 27%

Staff Report
A view of Lake Tahoe Sunday morning from D.L. Bliss State Park on the West Shore. (Provided /

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Smoke from wildfires is impacting Lake Tahoe.

Unhealthy air quality is being reported on the North Shore on Sunday with slightly better conditions on the South Shore, according to

Anyone with sensitivities to smoke should limit time outdoors.

While the smoke has been heavier over the past couple of days in the basin, containment on the destructive Tamarack Fire south of Lake Tahoe has grown to 27% with most of that on the northern flank, officials reported Sunday.

The fire map updated Sunday morning shows containment lines protecting the communications towers on Hawkins Peak and stretches down the canyon along California State Route 88 to Woodfords and beyond.

Hot spots near Woodfords and Blue Lakes have disappeared from the mapping.

Structure protection crews will be working Sunday and through the night, patrolling communities including Sierra Pines, Crystal Springs, Woodfords, Markleeville and Grover Hot Springs.

Highway 88, along with California State Routes 89 and 4 and U.S. Highway 395, remains closed in the fire area.

The blaze grew another 7,632 acres on Saturday and is at 66,744 overall as of Sunday.

The fire has claimed about two dozen structures, including 13 that have been damaged or lost in Douglas County.

The estimated number of people evacuated is now 2,289, officials reported on Sunday.

More than 1,500 firefighters are battling the fire.

Expected thunderstorms may bring severe wind and lightning and the smoke from the Dixie Fire burning to the north of Lake Tahoe is also expected to blanket the area, which could limit the use of aircraft. Officials said the chance for significant rainfall is 10%, but there is the potential for outflow winds from the storm pushing strong gusts up to 45 mph over the fire area and increasing fire activity.

Fire officials have had difficulty with other aircraft flying into the fire area where restrictions are in place.

“Whether flying a fixed wing, helicopter, or drone … private aircraft must abide by these TFR regulations,” said a statement. “If aircraft encroaches on the TFR, it can be deadly. Any personal aircraft, even a tiny drone, can cause a serious or fatal accident if it collides with firefighting aircraft. If aircraft or drones are spotted near a wildfire, firefighting aircraft must land due to safety concerns. This prolongs firefighting operations; in many cases, wildfires become larger when aircraft are not able to drop fire retardant, water, monitor wildfires from above, or provide tactical information to firefighters. Homes and other values at risk could burn needlessly, firefighters or others could be injured, or worst of all, a fatal accident could occur.”

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