Untamed Star fire continues | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Untamed Star fire continues

Robert Stern

The Star fire burned uncontained for a fourth day Tuesday as high winds, low humidity and extreme heat plagued firefighters.

The 6,000-acre fire in the Eldorado and Tahoe national forests, 25 miles west of Lake Tahoe, is causing tremendous amounts of smoke to filter into the Tahoe Basin.

The fire, which is 9 percent contained, is spreading in several directions. Officials aren’t predicting when it will be stopped.

“There is no telling how big it will get,” said Dwain Schrader, U.S. Forest Service fire information officer.

Schrader said it would be impossible for the blaze to reach the Tahoe Basin because of the the lack of available fuel.

“There are too many rocks,” he said.

Firefighters have been digging fire lines to contain the blaze, but winds gusting as high as 20 mph are launching burning embers a half-mile from the fire line, starting spot fires in the surrounding area. The thick smoke is making it difficult for air tankers to drop retardant.

The blaze, which began at the bottom of a canyon at the Red Star Mine, grew from 10 acres Saturday to 6,000 acres Tuesday. With the aid of air tankers, helicopters and bulldozers, 1,507 firefighters and personnel are battling the blaze.

The fire threatens power lines from generators in Hell Hole and French Meadows, which feed Sacramento, and campgrounds in both areas were evacuated.

Elsewhere, a forest fire that started Sunday afternoon near Bear Lake and Barker Pass in the Tahoe National Forest is 75 percent contained.

“It’s not doing a lot,” said Debby Broback, fire information officer for the U.S. Forest Service. “It’s not like the one that is putting up all the smoke.”

The Bear fire has consumed about 91 acres. The U.S. Forest Service is using two helicopters and four hand crews but the natural environment is also providing considerable help.

“We are using a lot of natural areas such as large rocky areas to contain the fire,” Broback said.

The fire had closed down the McKinney Rubicon Trail Monday morning, but it was reopened Tuesday. The Forest Service, however, is asking the public not to use four-wheel drive vehicles on the trail in the vicinity of Long Lake.

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