U.S. Forest Service: Illegal Campfire Sparked Angora Fire - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

U.S. Forest Service: Illegal Campfire Sparked Angora Fire

Kellene Stockwell
Channel 2 News
 
 

UPDATED: 8:15pm

Fire officials at a community meeting in South Lake Tahoe have confirmed that an illegal campfire sparked the devastating Angora Fire on Sunday, June 24.  Officials say the campfire sparked about a quarter mile south of Seneca Pond.  No suspects have been named.  If you have any information on how the fire started, you're asked to call: 1-800-468-4408. Watch Channel 2 News at 11 and turn to www.ktvn.com as more information becomes available.

UPDATED: 6:53pm

An update from Sierra Pacific:   

Sierra Pacific Power Crews Rebuilding Power Lines at South Lake Tahoe

  • Since gaining access to the Angora Fire burn area Wednesday night, 38 of 77 damaged power poles and 8 of 22 electric transformers have been replaced.  Linemen and power company personnel plan to complete work on the main line along Tahoe Boulevard tonight, which will enable them to start restoring power to serviceable homes in the fire damaged areas as early as tomorrow. 
  • Approximately 15,000 feet of electric wire that was destroyed by the fire also needs to be replaced.
  • Homes and businesses outside the burn area, but within previously evacuated areas had their power restored yesterday.
  • Linemen and other power company personnel from South Lake Tahoe, North Tahoe, Carson City and Reno are working to repair the transformers and other equipment destroyed by the Angora Fire. The crews will remain in place until repairs are completed.
  • Sierra Pacific Power has augmented its normal South Tahoe line crew and repair personnel by five-fold in order to make quick progress in restoring power to the area.
  • Approximately two dozen pieces of equipment have been sent from other Sierra Pacific locations to aid in the work. These include bucket trucks, backhoes and dump trucks.
  • Because of the widespread damage caused by the fire, tree trimming crews are expected to be in the burn area for weeks to remove thousands of dead and dying trees that are hazardous to the operation of the electric distribution system.
  • Approximately 100 serviceable customers in the blackened area along North Upper Truckee River Road and customers living in the Tahoe Paradise and Tahoe Mountain areas remain without power at this time due to the fire.

UPDATED: 6:39pm

KTVN reporter Brandon Rittiman reports the Angora Fire is now 80% contained. Acreage remains the same at 3,100 acres.

Over 800 firefighters returned home Friday.

An exact cause of the fire will be announced later tonight.

All evacuation notices have been lifted.

UPDATED: 6:33pm

During a press conference, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said "the worst is over." He also said the fire is going out "pretty fast" and that fire crews will be concentrated wherever they see heat on their infrared radar.

All area roads remain open.

Full containment still estimated by July 3rd.

UPDATED: 11:47am

A public meeting will be held at the Lake Tahoe Middle School, 2870 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe Friday 8pm.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide information on the current status of the Angora Fire, and to release the cause of the fire that began June 24th.

UPDATED: 11:29am

(AP) -- About 500 more firefighters are expected to be released from the Lake Tahoe fire in what authorities call an ecouraging sign that the worst may be over. About 140 firefighters were sent home yesterday from the Angora Fire, dropping the total number of personnel on the blaze to 2,005 from a peak of 2,180. The fire was 70% contained yesterday after a second day of mild winds.

UPDATED: 11:27am

(AP) -- Authorities are expected later today to release the cause of the 3,100 acre forest fire that destroyed 254 homes near Lake Tahoe. At a briefing last evening, fire incident commander Rich Hawkins of the U.S. Forest Service says the cause was accidental but he declined to elaborate. Investigators determined the fire started near Seneca Pond and was not arson. Hawkins says the cause will be revealed at the daily briefing this evening.

UPDATED: 11:15am

As the rebuilding process begins after the Angora wildfires in Lake Tahoe, be extremely cautious when hiring contractors. Unscrupulous contractors may take advantage of people who have experienced a catastrophic event. Take your time in choosing true professionals to repair your home. Immediately report any suspicious behavior to your local police, sheriff's department, and Allstate agent. Be cautious of flyers and business cards left on your doorstep.

Nine Checks to Not Get Scammed...

    Get estimates from several licensed, bonded contractors.

    Check their credentials with your local Better Business Bureau or Home Builders Association.

    Ask your neighbors what they're paying for similar work.

    Inspect contractors' licenses and proof of liability insurance.

    Get a contract in writing.

    Avoid paying money up-front. Some reputable contractors will require partial, up-front payment, but these pre-work payments shouldn't exceed the cost of materials or 20 percent of the total estimate. 

    Follow local building codes and inspection procedures.

    If anyone performs work on your house or property without your permission, don't pay them, and contact your local authorities.

    Avoid signing over an insurance settlement check to the contractor.

UPDATED: 11:13am

From a TRPA press release:

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) has pledged to help coordinate the multiple agencies involved in vegetation management at Lake Tahoe, Agency officials said Friday while also creating a streamlined permitting process to help property owners rebuild after the fire.

"We recognize that there is a disconnect somewhere between our rules and the realities on the ground," said Julie Regan, Communications Chief for TRPA. "We are currently working with partner agencies to determine how to speed up defensible space work in the Tahoe Basin and improve public education around tree removal regulations."

While the Agency's first priority is to support the firefighters' efforts to put out the blaze, Regan said, TRPA is also coordinating with restoration experts to help mitigate environmental impacts from the wildfire. The USFS will be the lead agency on the restoration work and TRPA will be collaborating with their experts along with other Tahoe agency scientists and experts, Regan said.

To help fire victims move on with their lives, TRPA is establishing a streamlined permitting process for all property owners. "Our rules already allow rebuilding to similar size and height, but we are being more comprehensive to ease the burden in a time of emergency," Regan said.  "TRPA is waiving the environmental mitigation fees that are usually required and are working on solutions to filing fees as well.  We are also finding ways to help gather documentation on the properties and to minimize the steps for approval."

The TRPA is working closely with Lake Tahoe agencies to do everything currently possible to help the community during the Angora fire disaster. Current rules allow for property owners to pursue the replacement of previously existing development for up to 18 months from the fire. TRPA will be discussing possible extensions to this timeline if needed.  The Agency is also working to organize community workshops as soon as possible to answer questions and discuss resources and plans for the rebuilding process.

From El Dorado County:

El Dorado County Evacuation Information Hotline:

(530) 573-7966

LIMITED RE-ENTRY SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED

Limited Re-entry Schedule:

For Streets- ABERDEEN CIR, ANGORA RIDGE RD, DEVERON WAY, DUNDEE CIR, GLENMORE WAY, HEATHER CIR, HIGHLANDS DR, TARTAN WAY, UPLANDS WAY, TAHOE MOUNTAIN RD, BOULDER MOUNTAIN CT, BOULDER MOUNTAIN RD, BRUSH RD, CONE RD, FOREST MOUNTAIN DR, GRANITE MOUNTAIN CIR, IRON MOUNTAIN CIR

Checkpoint 1 (Enter Lake Tahoe Blvd from the Y)

Entry permitted 0800-1200 hours (TM)

For Streets - ANGORA CREEK RD, ELK POINT DR, LOOKOUT POINT CIR, MULE DEER CIR, LAKE TAHOE BLVD, ANGORA CREEK DR, COYOTE RIDGE CIR, EAGLE LN, VIEW CIR, CLEAR VIEW DR, DIXIE MOUNTAIN DR, FRONTIER RD, MOUNTAIN TROUT DR, MOUNTAIN MEADOW DR

Checkpoint 1 (Enter Lake Tahoe Blvd from the Y)

Entry permitted 1300- 1700 hours (AC)

For streets - CLIFF RD, MT RAINIER DR, PYRAMID CIR, PYRAMID CT, SNOW MOUNTAIN DR, LITTLE MOUNTAIN LN, MOUNTAIN PASS LN, MT DIABLO CIR, MT OLYMPIA CIR, MT SHASTA CIR, NORTH UPPER TRUCKEE

Checkpoint 2 (Enter from North Upper Truckee from Hwy 50)

Entry permitted 0800-1200 hours (MR)

Residents will be permitted to remain only 1 hour following their arrival during the permitted entry period. Residents will be permitted to remain only during the permitted period. Residents must show proof of address and identification. Residents are restricted to their own address only. Violators will be subject to trespassing charges. Residents should use extreme caution as many hazards still exist. Residents enter at their own risk.

Insurance adjustors will be permitted with resident.

This plan is subject to changing conditions. Please check the hot line prior to coming to a check point.

---

Latest wire story on fire:

(AP) -- Firefighters in California are making significant headway against that destructive wildfire near Lake Tahoe.

Some roads into the area have been reopened and some of the people who've been chased out of their homes are being allowed back in.

Winds died down yesterday for the second day in a row and fire crews now have the 3,100 blaze about 70% contained.

Since it broke out last Sunday, the fire has destroyed more than 250 homes. Some 2,200 firefighters have been on the lines, but officials are hoping to be able to dismiss about 500 of them today.

People whose homes bore the brunt of the destruction have still not been cleared to go back in. Several who tried to return yesterday by bicycle were arrested for trespassing.

One man whose family lost their house says the hardest part is not being able to at least stand there and, as he put it, "rake through our stuff."

---

Fire officials say the man-made blaze was started at a pond near Upper Truckee Road. If you have any information call their tip line at 1-800-468-4408.

An evacuation center remains set up at the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center located at 1180 Rufus Allen Boulevard. Rec officials say they have cots and food for all the evacuees, but they say they need blankets and clothes for the people there. For more information, you can call 530-542-6056. Other evacuation centers are set up at Carson High School and Incline Village High Schools.

El Dorado County Animal Control officers are assisting with any animal evacuations. They're also patrolling the area in search of lost animals. Animals that are collected will be taken to the County Animal Control Shelter at 1120 Shakori Drive in South Lake.

If you have been evacuated and have pets that need to be sheltered, call the Pet Network Animal Friends. The Incline Village-based group is taking in dogs, cats and other small animals. Their number is 775-832-4404.

Evacuees that need information about sheltering or retrieving pets can call 530-577-1776. 

If you see injured wildlife that needs help, call Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care at 530-577-2273.

Temporary flight restrictions remain in place at Lake Tahoe Airport for five nautical miles for emergency aircraft only.

To see live, streaming video of the fire from Caltrans, go to http://video.dot.ca.gov/ then scroll down to the "Lake Tahoe Area" section and then click on the "50 at Myers" camera. 

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