Waterfall Fire Reporters’ Journal- July 16-20
Update as of 7:00 p.m. Tuesday:
-Blaze fully contained
-Cost of fighting fire estimated $5.6 million
-New fire management team to take over
-Illegal campfire blamed for fire, reward offered
-Revegetation efforts underway
-Total 8,723 acres burned
-709 fire personnel still on scene
5 firefighters, 1 civilian
– 15 homes, 25 outbuildings, 1 commercial building
– 8 vehicles destroyed, including 3 fire vehicles
Waterfall Fire declared fully contained. The size of the fire was increased to 8,723 acres due to corrected measurements. Number of personnel will drop to 120 by Thursday morning.
A new Type 3 team will take over management of the Waterfall Fire on Thursday morning from the Type 1 team that has been running the firefighting operations since last Friday.
7:30 a.m. Tuesday
Smoke appears to have stopped from the Ash Canyon area where backfires have been set.
9 p.m. Monday
Revegatative efforts in full swing. Officials warn people to stay out of burned areas, as falling trees and rocks are a danger. Fire to be fully contained Tuesday evening.
2 p.m. Monday
Investigators are discounting the initial theory of a teenage party bonfire getting out of control as the start of the Waterfall Fire after find the ingnition point far off of the road, in an area that would require a 45 minute hike.
7 a.m. Monday
Fire officials report 95 percent containment, with the estimate for full containment moved back to Tuesday at 6 p.m. Acreage placed at 7,600, cost at $4.8 million.
9 p.m. Sunday
Correction: Full containment expected Monday night at 8, not Sunday, as we reported earlier today. This is one day ahead of the previous estimates.
The number of firefighters on scene is down from a high of 1,900 to 1,100. Most structure crews have been released. The national type-one management team is expecting to leave Wednesday. All evacuation centers are closed. All military helicopters were released at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Off-highway vehicles are banned in the burned area by a forest order from the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in order to prevent erosion.
6:00 p.m. Sunday
Fire officials today now predict to have the Waterfall Fire fully contained by 8 p.m. Monday night. Despite increased winds for the last two days, the breaks fire crews built have all held.
5:30 p.m. Sunday
Some good news. The firefighter who reportedly broke his leg on the dangerous, intense first day of the fire has soft tissue damage instead, no fracture. He and another member of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District are at home resting, according to a district spokesperson.
The plume of smoke that can be seen from the fire area at this time is from a backfire set on purpose. It poses no threat, according to fire officials.
2 p.m. Sunday
Fire crews are being sent home as the Waterfall Fire appears to be coming under control. “The danger has passed,” said Stacey Giomi, acting Carson City fire chief.
Local, state and federal officials broadened their investigation into the cause of the blaze. They speculated that campfire embers may have been smoldering unoticed for three days before the fire started.
10 a.m. Sunday
According to Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch, Firefighters continued to make excellent progress, and build remaining fireline. The skies were remarkably clear, except for a few flare ups in Kings Canyon. Crews are also working around the Timberline and Lakeview subdivisions, mopping up hot spots. Crews are mopping up the firelines, looking for hot spots near the line. Crews are starting to rehabilitate (build waterbars) dozer lines. Residents will continue to see smoke from flare ups in islands of unburned trees or brush within the fire for the next few weeks.
9:30 p.m. Saturday
According to Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center, the size of the Waterfall Fire is 7,566 acres, 85 percent contained. Estimated containment date is July 20.
“The firefighters continued to make good progress on the fire, and are securing more fireline. They are working around the Timberline and Lakeview subdivisions, to extinguish any remaining fire or embers. Residents will continue to see smoke from flare ups from gusty winds. They may also notice smoke from burnouts — intentional fires set to remove unburned fuel inside the fireline.
“Tonight, fire crews will complete a 30-50-acre burn out on the southern end of the west fireline, the south end of Ash Canyon.”
Cost of the fire so far: $4,100,000
4:30 p.m. Saturday – Red Cross officials say they will close the evacuation shelter at Carson High School on Sunday. Evacuees are being allowed to return home, but fire officials are asking people not to remain overnight. Services for fire victims will continue to be offered at the high school.
A momma cat and four kittens have been dropped off at Petsmart. Anyone missing their cat can call 841-9200 or stop by the store, off of Fairview Drive. Stay posted for a photo.
Sierra Pacific Power Co.’s 120,000-volt line serving North Lake Tahoe customers is clear of fire danger from the Waterfall fire and is re-energized, spokeswoman Karen Foster said Saturday.
The request for conservation issued Friday asking customers to avoid using major appliances such as clothes washers, fryers and dishwashers has been lifted.
3 p.m. Saturday – Fire information stations are being staffed today at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, 2180 S. Carson St. and Albertson’s, 3620 North Carson Street. The National Weather Service in Reno said winds from the west are blowing at about 20
with gusts along the ridge tops reaching 30 mph.
2:45 p.m. Saturday – The American Red Cross closed its evacuation shelter in Galena at noon today. Relief services are still being offered and the shelter at Carson High School remains open. Food clothing and counseling are available to those families affected by the fire as well as to those fighting the fire.
2:00 p.m. Saturday
The major concern for crews battling the Waterfall fire in Carson City today is a change in the weather, officials said Saturday morning.
“As long as the humidity stays up, the temperatures stay down and the winds stay calm we’re OK. But you never know what’s going to happen,” said fire information officer Susan Marzec. “It’s looking really good. We had a very good day yesterday. We got a good handle on the fire,”
11 p.m. Friday:
Full containment estimated for July 20. 1,901 firefighters now on the scene. Ground support includes 37 hand crews, 123 fire engines, 16 bulldozers, 18 water tenders, 26 total aircraft including 3 heavy airtankers, 3 single-engine airtankers, 13 helicopters, 1 air attack and lead planes. 98,300 gallons of retardant dropped Friday
Five firefighters, 1 civilian injured.
– 15 total including 25 outbuildings, 1 commercial building
– 8 vehicles destroyed, including 3 fire vehicles
8:20 p.m. Friday
Officials say they have reached 50 percent containment, the fire grew today to 7,662 acres, 1,500 people are fighting the fire, and the cost is now at $2.5 million.
Helicopters dropped 80 hot shot fire fighting crews into a small clearing near the Lake Tahoe rim this afternoon, 3 miles from Marlette Lake, said Mark Struble, public information officer for the Sierra Front. The crews will take advantage of the weather and wind breaks tonight to hand dig a fire line to try to stop the fire from entering eastern Tahoe country. It’s one of the first chances crews will have to aggressively attack the fire. The crews may camp outside in the dirt overnight, but will likely be up all night working to pinch off the fire before it reaches the Tahoe basin, Struble said. The fire reached within 1.5 miles of the lake and 2.5 miles of Franktown road today.
Evacuations are still in effect for Kings Canyon, Lakeview, Combs Canyon, Timberline and Silver Oak. No residents will be allowed to stay in these areas overnight. University Heights is open with no restrictions.
Those with respiratory problems can pick up a free mask at the north side of Carson High School, 1111 N. Saliman Road.
Incident command center says water conservation for the Waterfall fire is no longer necessary.
“We’re looking pretty good right now. Give us another three hours of weather like this and well get it,” Sheriff Kenny Furlong from the Bellvue Bridge command post in Washoe Valley.
The truck sought as a possible witness at the start of the fire has been ruled out.
The fire is one mile off the Lake Tahoe rim. All major fire movement has been in the Snow Valley Peak area near the rim. Firefighters are reporting good progress with little wind. Fire lines are holding well, said Christie Kalkowski, Sierra Front fire information officer.
Sierra Front is reporting the fire is 20 miles south of Reno. It is currently burning at the upper ends of Ash and Vicee Canyons above Timberline’s residential area and on the ridgeline above Lakeview’s residential area. Aircraft are targeting the northwest corner of the fire in Vicee Canyon and southeast Lake Tahoe State Park.
Firefighters are concentrating on keeping the fire south of Franktown Road, north of Hwy. 50 and east of Tahoe Rim Trail. ed for July 20
Fifty new fire engines arrived today, bringing the total to 100 engines.
Power will be restored to Kings Canyon by tonight. Power is still out for four to five customers in Lakeview until utility workers are able to get in.
Bank of America has donated $20,000 to the American Red Cross to aid victims of the Waterfall fire. Donations to the fund may be made at any branch office.
Fire size has been revised to 6,100 acres.
Containment remains at 30 percent
Residents will begin to see darker smoke in the next hour. Yesterday’s erratic behavior began around 3:30 p.m. “It will be interesting to see what happens today,” said Scott Huntley, public information officer for the Sierra Front.
Humidity is a bit better today fire officials hope that will aid efforts, however the National Weather Service warns it would take a 10-15 percent increase.
The 95 residents evacuated from the Evergreen Health and Rehabilitation Center have been moved to other skill nursing centers or are home with their families. Anyone seeking information on a resident is asked to call 841-4646, said Debbie Parziale, executive director.
Gov. Kenny Guinn, “We’re moving along with as much diligence and due care as we can. We’re doing everything we possibly can.” Speaking at a press conference at Carson Middle School Guinn said today’s winds are so far giving firefighters a break, but that winds are expected to pick up in the days ahead.
Franktown residents under voluntary evacuation order.
Command center set up in the south east corner of Carson High School in front of the ROTC building
Thank you signs have been put up throughout Timberline.
Report of ashes floating to the ground in Dayton.
Timberline residents ordered to evacuate within the next hour. Evacuation is mandatory.
Command center moving to Carson High School.
Power outages are hampering firefighting efforts, causing water supply problems. The city’s drinking water system is OK, but residents are asked to conserve water.
There are “too many donations,” said Franklin Pemberton, spokesman for the Sierra Front Interagency Cooperative. People should donate to area fire departments who have lost equipment or send money to the American Red Cross.
More on that earlier report of someone running a roadblock. Turns out the person is owner of the Ormsby House, and was arrested. Full story will be online in a few minutes.
Officials briefing the community today fear winds will push fire into Washoe County today.
Police radio report that Timberline, Kings Canyon and Lakeview are open to residents only.
Deputies reportedly in an altercation with someone who ran a roadblock in the Lakeview area. Deputies report being attacked by a dog.
Firefighters check out a report of spot fire on Duck Hill. They found no fire, but are clearly worried about flames jumping the highway here, where they could spread fast in the sagebrush east of Washoe Lake.
Reports revise the size of the fire at 9,100 acres. Reports that fire commanders will focus efforts to keep fire from going west toward Lake Tahoe, and trying to stop it from advancing any farther north.
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6:30 a.m. Friday
Weather forecasts call for continued wind from the southwest, temperatures in the low 90s. Humidity might rise a little, with possible thunderstorms south of the area.