South Shore helps southern neighbors: Lake Tahoe firefighters on their way; Red Cross volunteers could follow |

South Shore helps southern neighbors: Lake Tahoe firefighters on their way; Red Cross volunteers could follow

Adam Jensen
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / A Tahoe Douglas fire engine and crew leaves Lake Tahoe for Southern California on Monday morning.

As a group of Lake Tahoe firefighters make their way to Southern California to help battle more than a dozen wildfires, local volunteers await a call-up of their own.

Fire engines from a strike team of Lake Tahoe-area firefighters began the journey south as early as Sunday night.

Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District contributed two engines, while South Lake Tahoe Fire Department and Lake Valley Fire Protection District each contributed an engine.

“Sounds like we’re going to San Diego at this point” Jeff Michael, Lake Valley Fire Protection District chief, said Monday afternoon.

North Lake Fire Protection District and Northstar also contributed crews to the strike team, according to South Lake Tahoe Fire Chief Lorenzo Gigliotti.

Each of the South Shore fire departments plans to use reserve engines to maintain firefighting potential in the Lake Tahoe Basin while the firefighters are away. The cost of sending the engines to Southern California is likely to be covered by federal grants, Michael said.

With the devastation expected to be widespread, several local Red Cross volunteers may also head toward the state-declared disaster area.

Although a national call-up by the Red Cross because of the fires had yet to occur as of Monday evening, representatives of both the Sacramento Sierra Chapter and the Northern Nevada Chapter of the American Red Cross were expecting their emergency response volunteers to be utilized during recovery efforts in Southern California.

“Right now we’re in waiting mode to see who is going to be called up and deployed,” said Michael Hurick, director of emergency services for the Northern Nevada Chapter of the American Red Cross. “The way things are going, we’ll probably have people deployed.”

The Sacramento-Sierra Chapter has already sent two emergency vehicles to Southern California to improve communication and distribute emergency supplies to Southern California, according chapter spokeswoman Courtney Miller.

With the Sacramento-Sierra region boasting more than 1,200 Red Cross- trained emergency responders, more than any other chapter in the nation, it is unclear if the South Lake Tahoe’s emergency responders for the Red Cross will be needed.

“It just depends on people’s availability,” Miller said on Monday.

The South Lake Tahoe Disaster Action Team of the Sacramento-Sierra chapter has three emergency responders properly trained to respond to national disasters, including a former casino employee, John Garofalos.

Garofalos could be used in a variety of disaster relief roles, but each one will require him to be ready to help at a moment’s notice.

“If they do need me, yes, I am ready to do that,” Garofalos said on Monday.

Tahoe residents react to fires

At the Community Care Center of Tahoe, in the old Mikasa building at the “Y,” the Southern California fires were viewed Monday in light of the devastating Angora fire at the South Shore over the summer. The Care Center was set up to distribute donations to Angora fire victims.

Andrea Jarone, an Angora fire survivor, was bringing to the center surplus donations she had received. She said she hopes the victims of the Southern California fires can experience support similar to that Angora fire victims received from the tight-knit Tahoe community.

Arlene Wolfe, a volunteer at center, described the new fires as scary and terrible. One of her daughters lives in Southern California, and although she hadn’t been directly effected by the fires, she is close enough that she had ashes falling into her yard.

— Sara Thompson

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