Tahoe agencies respond
Fire officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for the backcountry near Spooner Summit and Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park on Wednesday evening as a wildfire raged between Ash and Kings canyons west of Carson City.
“State park personnel are moving all bikers, hikers and horseback riders out of the area,” said Christie Kalkowski, fire information officer for the Waterfall fire, which had burned more than 2,000 acres by 7:15 p.m.
Kalkowski said thick smoke, easily visible from the Lake Tahoe Basin, was making it difficult to tell which direction the fire was moving.
Kit Bailey, fire management officer for the Lake Tahoe Basin, could not be reached for comment Wednesday because he was out scouting the movement of the fire, according to Marie Bledsoe, a U.S Forest Service public information officer.
North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District at Incline Village used a plane to scout the fire and estimated it to be seven or eight miles from the northeast side of the basin.
“It’s still pretty far away, but we’ve been making contingency plans all day and we will continue to do so through the night,” said North Lake Tahoe fire Battalion Chief Greg McKay. “We’re going to keep watching it. We think it may get closer before this thing is over.”
McKay’s fire district has two hand crews, one engine and a total of 29 staff members working the fire. Two members of the hand crews were injured by rolling debris early Wednesday. Both were treated and released from hospitals, according to Fire Chief Jim Linardos.
The fire district at Tahoe City also sent two of its engines and 11 firefighters to work the Waterfall fire. At South Shore, Lake Valley Fire Protection District, Fallen Leaf Fire Department and Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District each sent one engine and several staff members to work in the valley.
Fire departments around the basin have called off-duty firefighters to cover for staff members on the fire. South Lake Tahoe Fire Department have not assigned engines or staff because it does not have engines equipped to fight brush fires.
“We called in extra volunteers and we’re fully staffed from now until the strike engine gets back,” said Jeff Landis, captain at Fallen Leaf Fire Department.
“All our stations continue to be staffed with trained firefighters and paramedics,” said Bryce Keller, division chief at North Tahoe Fire Protection District at Tahoe City. “We called in people (who were) off duty to come back into the station for coverage.”
– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org