Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wildfire Jumps Containment Line

Update - Tahoe In Flames

This 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.

26 June 2007 - Angora Lake Fire - Lake Tahoe CA.

Bad news this afternoon. The Angora Lake wildfire jumped the forward containment line the fire crews had worked hard the past day to lay down. Mid afternoon winds picked up momentum and carried large flaming embers over Gardner Mountain and across Emerald Bay Road (Hwy 89) into forested areas between town and the popular turn-of-the-century resort area of Camp Richardson. Spot fires flared up quickly in the dry timber that borders the shore of Lake Tahoe.

Concerted effort was redirected from the main blaze to squelch the new fires before they could grow into another roaring inferno. During this time the winds carried the main blaze around the sides of Gardner Mountain threatening homes in the Gardner Mountain neighborhood and Tallac Village. Both neighborhoods had to be placed under forced evacuation. Because of the possibility of the wildfire could again breach the containment line, the Tahoe Keys and Tahoe Island neighborhoods, near this afternoon’s flare up, have been placed on alert with a voluntary evacuation request. Tallac Village is in the northwest corner of the “Y”, the junction of US-50 and Hwy 89. The area around the “Y” is South Lake Tahoe’s major commercial district and downtown area.

Also this afternoon, two firefighters were trapped by the back-burn they had set earlier to help contain the main blaze. The two firefighters had to deploy their emergency survival shelters to avoid a fiery death. The two firefighters survived the ordeal thanks to the survival shelters known as shake & bakes because of the shaking action used to deploy the individual shelters and that once inside, well, you bake ... but you don’t burn! The metallic fabric fire shelters are credited with saving the lives of several hundred firefighters. Unfortunately the shelters don’t always work, July 6, 1994 fourteen firefighters died on Storm King Mountain near Glenwood Springs CO. Thankfully the shelters did perform as needed today!

Smoke rises from Angora Ridge - Backside of the smoke plume

Current Stats:

  • There are still no deaths or serious injuries related to the Angora Lake fire.
  • Area charred by the fire is 3200 acres or 5 square miles (13 sq km).
  • 800 firefighters are on the scene and the fire is about 44% contained.
  • The number of homes destroyed by the fire has climbed over 200.
  • With this afternoon’s forced evacuation of Tallac Village and Gardner Mountain, evacuees are up to 2000 and continuing to rise as residents of the Tahoe Keys choose to flee ahead of the advancing wildfire.

No comments: