Wind gusts whip prescribed burn: Agencies respond to wild fire near last month’s blaze |

Wind gusts whip prescribed burn: Agencies respond to wild fire near last month’s blaze

Jeff Munson and Susan Wood
Tracy Peterson / Tahoe Daily Tribune / A tanker drops retardant in the hills above Fallen Leaf Lake on Sunday.

FALLEN LEAF LAKE – Two air tankers, an air attack unit, a helicopter and about 80 personnel were called out Sunday to fight a U.S. Forest Service prescribed burn that got out of hand near Fallen Leaf Lake.

The Forest Service-sanctioned burn, located due east of last month’s Cathedral fire, had gotten to a point where additional help was needed, according to Forest Service dispatcher Bob Oswald.

Seven acres had burned as of 7:30 p.m. on the steep side of the ridge west of Fallen Leaf Lake near the site of last month’s 30-acre Cathedral Fire, which is still under investigation, according to Forest Service Fuels Battalion Chief John Washington.

Washington, who was on the scene at the incident command post, estimated the agency would have the blaze contained Sunday evening.

No injuries, evacuations or structures threatened were reported.

The battalion chief said he believes the wind kicked up, thus carrying the burn beyond control where a brushy meadow provided much fuel for the flames.

Smoldering embers were burning alongside the far end of Cathedral Road, which was closed to traffic. The Tallac Trail was also closed, and hikers on it were being diverted to the south end of Fallen Leaf Lake.

A smoke plume was seen throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin. Many attendees of the Kokanee Festival inquired with Forest Service employees about the prescribed burn, as the air tanker circled overhead.

Backup firefighters from Fallen Leaf Fire Department, South Lake Tahoe Fire, Lake Valley Fire Protection District and the California Department of Forestry were dispatched beginning at 2 p.m. Emergency dispatch at the time reported the fire to be a “slightly out of control” prescribed burn.

Dispatch received several calls throughout the afternoon regarding the controlled burn, according to communications supervisor Leona Allen.

“We’re getting a lot of public citizen calls which is good because it shows there is awareness out there of fire in the basin,” Allen said.

Prescribed burns originated in Kings Canyon National Park as a means of controlling the amount of fuel.

Fire Fest on Saturday

Fire Fest 2006 will be staged Saturday at South Tahoe Middle School. The free event set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. will feature a variety of scheduled activities including an up-and-close-and-personal view of a vehicle extrication, police canines in action and fire department competition.

The popular community event brings out the South Shore’s fire agencies, ambulance services and other public safety organizations pledged to protecting and preventing catastrophic events in the basin.

Beyond the fun, Fire Fest has distributed hundreds of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers for homes and reduced incidents involving children and matches over the 15 years in existence.

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