Tahoe not alone in its potential for huge fires
June 29, 2007
Yes, it could happen here.
We’re not talking only about wildfires. We’re talking about the kind of fires that can wipe out entire neighborhoods within minutes. We’re talking about an inferno like the Angora fire taking out hundreds of homes in the Virginia City Highlands, or reducing Clear Creek Canyon and all the homes there to ashes.
For that to happen, of course, conditions must be perfect – it takes a fire source, plenty of wind and a lot of dry fuels.
Like any other place, we’ve got the first of those in the form of lightning, smokers, campers and any number of other sources. The second and third – the high wind and the dry fuels – are in plentiful supply.
A study done in 2002 brought unsettling news about the potential for catastrophic fires in and around our communities and housing developments.
There’s only so much that can be done, but do it we must. Most obviously, that means residents paying greater attention to defensible space. There are plenty of people in South Lake Tahoe who wish they had done that. Planners should also take a much harder look at future developments in areas that give firefighters nightmares.
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Even if all of that happens, there will never be guarantees. Under the right conditions, fire will have its way, and people who live in susceptible areas will always have to live with that fact.