Smoke tough to breathe |

Smoke tough to breathe

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Smoke from the Gondola Fire crept down from a charred mountainside and laid a blanket across Lake Tahoe Friday morning.

It made air at South Shore smell and taste like a nasty campfire.

“We spent both days down by the water to get away from the smoke,” said Cindy Sellers, of Folsom, Calif. “This morning you could really smell it. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t breathe.'”

Even though the smoldering fire is contained, the smoke it produces could be factor for people at South Shore for days to come.

“It will have a lot to do with the wind conditions and the amount of work the firefighters are able to get done,” said Dick Mirgon, director at Douglas County Emergency Management. “My only advice to those susceptible to smoke and allergies is for them to reduce their outside activities and stay indoors the next couple of days.”

The smoke is expected to have an impact on Lake Tahoe because it contains phosphorous, said Larry Benoit, water quality expert at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

“There’s more phosphorous in wood smoke and that could impact algae growth pretty directly,” Benoit said.

The TRPA planned to take water samples from the lake on Friday to determine any impacts caused by the fireworks. But now the samples will also be tested to figure out how much impact the fire is having on the lake, said Jill Keller, TRPA spokeswoman.

“We should have some information soon and we’ll weigh it against statistics from years before,” Keller said.

The agency will also gather information from an air monitoring station set up at Zephyr Cove.

Visitors and residents on Friday were out doing their own monitoring atop Kingsbury Grade on Tramway Drive. People eyed the brown, smoking land as helicopters continued to drop lake water on hot spots.

“We haven’t been outside too much,” said Tim Sellers of Folsom. “It looked like it cleared up enough so we came to check out the view. I just hope it doesn’t flare up.”

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