Early estimates in damage at $100 million | NevadaAppeal.com

Early estimates in damage at $100 million

Susan Wood
Nevada Appeal News Service

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Dave Sherman, of South Lake Tahoe, fishes near Cave Rock on Sunday afternoon while the Angora fire burns in the background.

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. The fire has since burned 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 today. It has consumed about 2,500 acres and claimed at least 173 homes and other structures. No one has been injured, and no cause has been determined.

The fire, which was driven by wind and dry fuels according to officials, is under investigation.

Thousands of people have been evacuated and other left stranded with no estimated time residents may return to their homes. More than 700 firefighters and 22 strike teams are now working the fire with lines set on a 35- to 45-degree slopes due west of South Tahoe High School.

Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin, toured the site ” which resembles a war zone ” and led the effort with El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago of District 5 to get the proclamation issued.

“This is an incredible disaster. I’m so impressed with how the local agencies have worked together,” Gaines said.

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The recognition entitles local jurisdictions for funding and represents the first step in allowing individual homeowners to be eligible for federal aid. Santiago contacted U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to spearhead a federal declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Meanwhile, despite several road closure due to the Angora fire, roads are still open for travel to Lake Tahoe via a variety of access points on the North and East Shores, including Interstate 80 (through Truckee), Highway 89 (to Tahoe City), Highway 267 (to Kings Beach), Highway 431 (to Incline Village) and Highway 50 (from Highway 395).

Lake Tahoe’s southern access points, Highway 50 and 89, are closed to inbound traffic as of this afternoon. Highway 50 is closed to eastbound traffic at Pollock Pines, and westbound traffic at the Nevada state line. Highway 89 is closed from Pickett’s Junction to 2.7 miles south of the junction of Highway 50/ Luther Pass, and in the Lake Tahoe Basin southbound is closed at Bliss State Park.

For current road conditions, click to the California Department of Transportation’s Web site at http://www.dot.ca.gov.

“We are assisting the South Lake Tahoe visitors bureau and chamber of commerce in any way we can,” Andy Chapman, tourism director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, said. “The safety of our residents and guests is of the utmost importance.”

North Lake Tahoe businesses (both on the California and Nevada side), including retail, restaurants, lodging and recreation providers, remain open.

According to U.S. Forest Service officials, the Angora fire, located southwest of South Lake Tahoe, has burned more than 200 structures and consumed more than 2,000 acres, and is 10 percent contained.

Winds have died down significantly today, giving firefighters an opportunity to make headway.