Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ashes to Ashes

Tahoe in Flames - UpdateThis week is the anniversary of the 2007 Angora Wildfire in Tahoe and I will be posting the series of first-hand articles I published during the Angora fire.

27 June 2007 - Angora Wildfire - Lake Tahoe CA.
While the Angora Wildfire still burns, today, the ashes left in the fire's wake received their viewing by the politicos and dignitaries. This was the obligatory public relations tour and photo-op, followed by the press conference. These events are good and bad. Unfortunately the catalyst that sets the grand tour and press conference in motion is too often the result of a bad event in itself such as this wil
dfire. It is good to see our elected leaders out amongst the populous. Governor Schwarzenegger, Lt Governor Garamendi, State Insurance Commissioner Poizner all from California were present. Other notable attendees included Mayor Lovell of South Lake Tahoe and Governor Gibbons from Nevada.

Smoke rises from Gardner Mountain and Tallac Village at the "Y" near downtown South Lake Tahoe - seen from the shopping center parking lot just across the street.

Highlights of course included restating the current situation, announcing the different jurisdictions' proposed response to the aftermath of the wildfire, and calls to the citizenry to rally together and continue aiding their neighbors displaced by the fire. Of note: That the Tahoe area has been declared a State Disaster Site by California making it eligible for special state and federal grants and loans to abate the destruction of both public and private interests. Gov. Gibbons pledged both personnel and financial aid to Nevada's lakeside neighbors and reported that two more evacuation and aid centers are open, one in Incline Village on the Nevada side of the lake and another 25 miles away in Nevada's capitol city of Carson City. California's State Insurance Commissioner - Poizner - made an enlightening speech warning those affected by the fire to be vigilant for perpetrators of fraud when contracting for services and repairs of their property and also in dealing with their own insurance companies.

Unfortunately, the f
irst to arise from the ashes of a stricken community is not the Phoenix, the mythical bird of hope and rebirth. Far too often the victims of natural type disasters are victimized a second time by unscrupulous fly-by-night scam artists posing as insurance investigators and contractors for demolition and repairs.

... an older woman forced to evacuate her Tahoe home on terribly short notice who was being interviewed by a TV reporter as she sat in the back seat of a friend's car. S
he clutched a small box with a seal on it. The woman explained what had happened and what she took with her, "We had no time! No warning! The sheriff's car came through blasting that we had to leave now! The fire is coming!" She continued, "There was no time to pack anything. I just grabbed what was nearby. If it wasn't for my neighbor I would not be here now." ... looking down at the box she held, saying something about ashes, her voice trailed off, smothered by the din from the traffic as others evacuating Tallac Village and Gardner Mountain streamed by ... Ashes to Ashes.

Angora Wildfire spreads to Gardner Mountain.

Favourable weather conditions Wednesday helped firefighters gain about 55% containment of the Angora Wildfire. Total containment is projected by next Wednesday July 3rd.

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