North Lake Tahoe’s fire crews are attending illegal fires on a daily basis, diverting their attention from the major wildfires engulfing the state. Bonfires on the beach, grills or BBQs, and campfires are the most common offenses.
There was a week in August where 15 wildfires were reported to US Forest Service officials in Lake Tahoe. 11 of those were human-caused (the other four were lightning).
California is in the middle of one of its worst wildfire seasons on record and despite Red Flag warnings, people are still lighting campfires and BBQs.
“We just had a massive lightning impact across the state of California and that’s where we want our firefighters focusing their efforts. All of these illegal, unwanted, escaped campfires, it’s pulling our fire crews away from the most important work in protecting our communities.”
– Olivia Rahman, fire prevention officer with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit of the Forest Service
The burning of solid fuels is banned in North Tahoe and Truckee between June and November. When Red Flag warnings are issued, fires of almost any kind are prohibited.
The North Tahoe Fire District had one of its slowest Aprils and Mays in memory, due to the stay-at-home order. June, however, was the busiest on record for the volume of calls, and there has been no letup since
Many fires they are called to are due to out-of-towners who may be unaware of the rules and regulations. In these cases, education is the key, although of course, the fire needs extinguishing too.
Fire officials ask that anyone who sees an illegal fire in Tahoe should call 911 immediately. If you come across an extinguished, and cold-to-touch fire in the backcountry, you can report the location on the Forest Service’s website and professional crews will attend. If it is still warm/hot though, call 911.