Monday, June 25, 2007

Fires burn in Lake Tahoe

It is difficult to distance myself from a place I once called home no matter how many years go by.

I spent a few years in the Lake Tahoe area after college graduation. It was where I once worked as a sports writer covering snow and high school sports. As I read the news reports of the damage being incurred by a "monster fire" it is difficult not to remember the many places I rode a mountain bike or the areas I hiked. Lake Tahoe, bar none, is the most beautiful place I have ever lived and perhaps the most beautiful location in the Western United States. The scenery and the recreation combine to provide anyone plenty of things to do.

It is also near the Nevada stateline so there is also the casino and gambling element that attracts many people to the shorelines of the bluest lake in the world.
Reading about the fires is difficult when I know the roads so well and I still know a few people who live there. I once worked for the Tahoe Daily Tribune and across the street many people are seeking shelter inside the recreation center. Fire was always a concern in the area and on Sunday afternoon a community-wide nightmare began. More than 2,000 acres have been burning and more than 200 structures have been destroyed. This include many homes and businesses.

I just hope the winds calm down so that the fire fighter can get control of the blaze.

A state of emergency has been declared in South Lake Tahoe. With an estimated $100 million in damage and at least $1 billion in economic losses tallied, state officials have deemed El Dorado County as a disaster area as a result of the Angora fire that started Sunday afternoon in the North Upper Truckee area up to Tahoe Mountain on the South Shore.

The fire, which is being considered the worst for the South Shore in at least a half century, was still no more than percent contained on Monday. It has consumed about 2,500 acres and claimed 220 homes and other structures. No one has been reportedly injured, and no cause has been determined.

The fires came within 500 yards of South Tahoe High School and there is no confirmation that the high school has caught fire. South Tahoe High is the home of the Vikings. A school with an enrollment of about 1,500 and is know for its basketball and skiing programs. The football field is surrounded by forest and borders the wilderness. It is a great place to watch a game or to jog a few miles.

El Dorado County Sheriff Jeff Neves released a phone number in order for homeowners to check on the status of their homes at 530-541-5660 (ext. 336) or via Incident command operations are in the process of moving to Heavenly Mountain Resort's California Base Lodge from Lake Tahoe Airport.