By Tim Hauserman
Given the amount of smoke that has been billowing into Tahoe from the Rim Fire over the last week, now seems like a good time to review what homeowners and renters can do to prevent a similar fire from happening here. In, fact in the past ten years there have been three major fires in the Tahoe basin, including one just a few miles from Tahoe City, and the Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe which burned over 200 homes. Here are a few simple steps we can all do to prevent fires from happening, or reduce the devastation of those fires that do occur:
BBQ’s are a major starting point for fires. If a BBQ starts the deck on fire, a windstorm can take it right into the forest. In fact, it was a BBQ left unattended that was the cause of the Washoe Fire in Tahoe City which burned five homes and was stopped just short of a neighborhood with several hundred homes. Keep a close eye on the BBQ, and keep those flames down to a dull roar. Replace a rusty old BBQ that has become a fire hazard.
Defensible space-make sure your house has it, and if it doesn’t, take the necessary steps to make it so. You can get the gist of what to do at www.ntfire.net. A few key points: The goal is to have enough clear, not flammable space around the house so that fire fighters can protect your home. Clear brush and low hanging branches away from the house. Replace wood shake roofs with fire resistent composite roofs. Thin and remove trees that are too close to the structure (you may need a permit first).
Bonfires-While that fire pit in the back of your rental house would seem to be a charming addition to the mountain ambience, once you add in 10 inebriated renters who might not always be paying attention and there is certainly the potential for disaster.
Cigarettes-Tossing a cigarette, or other burning object, onto the ground is one of the greatest causes of wildland fires. The Gondola Fire in South Lake Tahoe was started when someone threw a cigarette out of the Gondola. What were they thinking? Oh yeah, they weren’t.