Saturday, June 30, 2007

Touring Fire Base Camp

Kids will be able tour the fire camp at Heavenly Mountain Resort on Sunday, July 1, according to radio reports.

Heavenly spot fire update, June 30 11:10 p.m.

This is from the Reno Gazette-Journal:

Spot fire snuffed out
Posted: 6/30/2007

While firefighters steadily gained ground against the Angora Fire Saturday, a smaller spot fire sprang to life near their incident command center at Heavenly ski resort.

That's the latest from Steve Johnson of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
"It was basically a slash pile at a logging area," he said. "They were able to knock it down fairly quickly."
No injuries were reported as a result of the fire. It grew to roughly 1,000 square feet before it was extinguished, Johnson said. The blaze was discovered about 2:45 p.m. and contained within an hour, he said.
Officials were investigating the source of the fire.

Angora update June 30, 11 pm

Fire is now 85 percent contained.

Cost to fight it to date is $10.7 million.

FEMA info located at:

Story worth reading:

Angora Fire from space

EO Natural Hazards: Angora Fire

One victim's views

This is an email forwarded to me on June 30, 2007:

Hi all:

Well, things are settling down now. Here's a letter to the editor I wrote at first opportunity after hearing about all the griping that went on at public hearings while the fire was still going strong. If people want to hear what my personal experience was like, I'll be happy to fill them in on request. But it seems rather presumptuous as a general e-mail, especially since it was mainly "busy, busy, busy trying to deal with evacuating houses with no real near misses.


What a difference a week makes. The fire threw everything off schedule further than I'd ever imagined. Luckily for me, that's been the greatest impact it's had on my life. So many of my good friends have had their lives turned completely upside down, with devastating effects on both happiness and fortune. My heart goes out to them. At this writing, though, no one appears to have died. Many pets and wild things were lost, of course, and there's great enough tragedy in that.

As always, I try to find lessons. I've yet to attend any of the "public information" meetings that have been held. They were mostly way too premature for me. I was still trying to deal with threats to my property from an active forest fire, and others were going to meetings. Luminaries descended like lice to get in everyone's way. What's that all about?

I put the term "public information" in quotes because they were reported mainly as public gripe sessions. I didn't have time to read the stories in any detail, but it doesn't surprise me that's what they were/are like. What ever became of the sense of responsibility people once had?

I know: makes me sound like grampa. Well, I am a grampa, so why shouldn't I sound like one? And, so what if I do? Maybe we'd all have done a bit better had we listened to the experience of our own grampas.

Time was, we didn't immediately try to find someone else to blame. Our homes, here in South Lake Tahoe, are in a forest. That's not someone else's fault. A lot of them, mine included, don't have truly defensible space. In some cases, but not that many, the cause of that indefensible space is, at least partly, due to administrative hassles getting approval to cut trees. Those hassles are often as much about money and time as permission. Most often, probably. Certainly so, if you throw in the cost of having a big tree removed by a professional (not a TRPA issue, though).

TRPA (The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency) has long been a whipping boy used by locals to vent exasperation of almost every sort. And they're a great target, if for no other reason than simply that the rich can always do whatever they want, building-wise, because throwing money at an agency is always the easiest way to get its approval. And if that doesn't work, throw money at lawyers. The poorer of us homeowners up here resent the hell out of the fact that, to do almost anything in the face of not having enough money to throw at the problem, we often wind up bootlegging it.

That's a lot easier than fixing the system so there's not this huge inequality in how it works. But it leaves us frustrated and at risk of getting caught and madder than hell. Yet, those of us who look beyond the borders of our own immediate irritation know that TRPA has been a God-send for our lifestyles. What makes Tahoe a wonderful place to live is that it is not city and it is located in the middle of paradise. That first reason, more than anything else, is directly due to the regulations and influence of TRPA, and the League To Save Lake Tahoe, and environmentalists of all sorts. You might even want to give them some credit for the second reason.

Finger pointing is natural, but extraordinarily unfortunate, for it almost never does anyone any good. And its practice, as exemplified by our litigious society, is debilitating.

The problem isn't TRPA. If everyone had been willing to live in a little oasis of barren ground in the middle of a forest, which is pretty much what "defensible space" is about, the forest fire wouldn't have consumed so many houses; almost certainly true. And if we'd have been concerned about it enough to pursue the matter hard enough, TRPA and everyone else would have let us build those little oases.

But we weren't, and we never will be. We live in a forest because we love the forest. Most of us don't want oases around our houses. And pretending TRPA stopped us from building them is just rationalizing our own complicity in creating the problem.

So, where's a lesson in all this? Maybe we should look at the idea of defendable space more realistically. What if we broadened our definition to a place where there would be more than one way of complying with "defensible space" provisions? I think a lot of us who won't pay in money or time to get permission and professionals to cut trees that are dangerously close to our houses would be willing to do so to install a fire suppression sprinkler system in those same trees. We do, after all, love the houses too.

But then we'd need the political will to enforce these new, more reasonable, rules, for preventing wildfire is not something you can do alone. I.e., we'd need to support some version of the TRPA. But 121 we'd rather blame it, and all those damned environmentalists, wouldn't we.

Signed me


One last philosophical bit that I spared the Tribune's readership by cutting. (You should be so lucky.)

One small, but I think important, example of how litigation has made us dysfunctional comes to mind originating from reportage of the fire itself. I've noticed that the control reports are not using the word "control" in reference to this fire. I've lived in forest fire country almost all my life. "Containment" has always meant "we have a line around" a fire. So 20% containment meant there was a fire line around 20% of the perimeter of the fire. "Control" meant the fire was no longer spreading at will. There's a big difference: a fire spreads at least as often via wind as ground–more, probably–and it tends to spread at will within the containment area. So 20% control is a much stronger statement than 20% containment. "Mopping up" meant the fire was in ember stage and wasn't offered in % terms: final extinguishment could be expected soon, providing wind and weather and manpower cooperated. "Out" meant out. All out.

Our fire has been reported only as "x% contained" (usually with x in the small teens or less). As the value of x became larger, I asked a fire official I know when this fire was going to get to controlled status and why we weren't hearing any reports indicating percent controlled. He said the lawyers have decided they can't report that information because there have been too many cases of people suing because of damages caused when "controlled" burns and/or fires got out of control.

So, throughout this fire, I had no idea how reasonable or unreasonable it was to relax. For me, that meant almost no relaxing. For others–probably exactly the type that let the campfire that started it get away from them in the first place–that means almost no concern once they were allowed back into the previously evacuated areas.

I don't even know how to speak to this, other than to ask again, "What's that all about?" I know enough about forest fires to know it's almost entirely up to the wind so long as it isn't "out" yet.

Love and Namaste,

George Drake
President: Common Sense for the Third Millennium

Advice for Angora victims

From Echo Summit Security:

Aside from condolences, we have only advice to offer those who have lost their homes during this horrific tragedy. As we finish dealing with the rebuilding of our own home, here are a few of the things we have learned:

1. Buy or borrow a digital audio recorder. You need this for two need to record what insurance agents and adjusters say to you because you are probably in shock, and they'll be using terminology you aren't used to hearing anyway. There is so much going on, so much to pay attention to, you'll hear only half of what they tell you. Somehow we missed the fact that our "code upgrades" were not covered in our policy, and we ended up with an unexpected $5,000 expense at the end of our settlement.

2. Get a small office area organized as quickly as possible, and have a small portable file organizer with sections labeled for insurance information, contractor information, a calendar, receipts, cards and gifts from well-wishers, etc. You'll have lots of pieces of paper coming at you, and there is no place to put them. On the calendar, jot down any phone calls or appointments with insurance adjusters, including whom you spoke with and what the conversation was about. Your memory will be a complete fog, but the calendar can help bring conversations back.

3. There is no rush to make decisions about how a home needs to be rebuilt, which contractor to use for the rebuild, whether or not to rebuild at all, or how quickly a claim needs to be settled. For instance, our insurance company kept telling us we had six months to re-buy all our belongings. If you can imagine trying to buy over $200,000 worth of property in just a few months, we were completely panicked. Fortunately, somebody took the time to do a little research, and it turns out the actual requirement was that we begin buying back items within six months. There was no actual time limit for when we finish. Every insurance policy different, and each person needs to verify what adjusters tell them, especially if it sounds a little unreasonable.

4. As painful as it is, start making lists of possessions that have been lost. As time goes by, it becomes more difficult to remember things we own. We had to imagine standing in each room, looking carefully around the room in a clockwise direction, and writing down each thing we can see.

5. One of the most difficult lessons we learned was that we had to accept help in order to get this done. We are a pretty independent couple, and I would suspect that folks who live in the Sierras are quite self-sufficient, as well. This was a growing experience for us, and we really learned who our friends are.

6. As a side note, there were some components of modern technology that became critical for us during the first few weeks: cell phones and on-line banking, including automatic bill-paying. Thank goodness we each had a cell phone, paychecks were deposited automatically, and the bills paid themselves. This let us focus on more pressing issues. Our bookmarks were still there, and our e-mail accounts were web-based, so we could use computers at work or at a friend's home to get to our information. Also, when we called our phone company, we learned that they can forward our home phone calls to our cell phones. This was an amazing convenience as we worked on getting into a rental, and it helped to avoid missing some important calls. While our phones and answering machine were melted, our number still existed, so folks still expected us to answer.

7. A couple of questions came up regarding the fact that we couldn't use our home at all. First, did we have to continue paying our mortgage? Yes, of course. The bank still wants its money. Second, and perhaps a lesser known detail, is the matter of property tax. Our county was kind enough to contact us and let us know that while our home was not inhabitable, it was not subject to property tax. We still pay the property taxes as normal, but once we claim a specific amount of time when we could not live in the house, the county will send us a reimbursement check. This could be different from county to county, so you'll have to check on the laws for your area.

8. One of the most frequent heartaches we had to face was when someone asked us for our home address. Months down the road, after we had moved into a rental, we would have to fill out a form or some kind of contract, and there was a sting when we had to write down an address that wasn't really ours. It does get better with time, and we did finally get to come back home, but it's something to be prepared for.

Once again, our hearts go out to those who are dealing with this tragedy. We hope this information makes a little difference.

Jay and Gina Welden

Angora and Heavenly fires June 30

A fire broke out today near the Sky chairlift of Heavenly Mountain Resort. Two helicopters helped contain the blaze. The fire cause is under investigation. Backpackers or cigarette would be the likely causes in that area. Plume of smoke could be seen from many areas around town. Folks walking along the trail at Cove East kept staring up at it this afternoon.

As for the Angora fire, here's what they have:

Injuries: 3 ... the worst has been a broken hand from a boulder

Cause: Campfire, no suspects (Tip Hotline: (800) 468-4408)

Fire activity will be light today. Todays expected winds are southwest 5- 10 mph. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid 70s.

Crews will continue perimeter control operations to threatened communities. Line improvement and mop up activities will continue to be completed 300 feet interior of the line and snags will felled 500 feet interior of the line.

All remaining areas previously evacuated and closed due to the Angora Fire will be open to residents. Angora Ridge remains closed.

Fire restrictions are in effect outside of fee campgrounds: No open fires or charcoal barbeques, propane only is allowed with a 2007 fire permit. No Fireworks allowed in any area.

July 9 Fundraiser

A bucket of cash sits on the counter at Bert's. A note posted on it says there will be a fundraising barbecue on July 9 from 11 a.m - 4 p.m. at the Meyers Downtown Cafe. The money raised will be used to buy gift cards from local merchangs for local victims to use.

USFS update June 30

This is from the US Forest Service website

Saturday, June 30, 7:00 a.m., South Lake Tahoe, CA.

The cause of the Angora Fire is reported to be from a campfire. Currently there are no suspects. The Tip Hotline telephone number is (800) 468-4408.

El Dorado County Undersheriff Fred Kollar announced that effective 8:00 AM, Saturday, June 30, 2007, all remaining areas previously evacuated and closed due to the Angora Fire will be open to residents.

Resources: 38 hand crews, 73 engines, 4 Helicopters, 10 Water tenders, 2 Camp Crews, 239 Overhead, 1332 Persons

Containment: 80%

This is from the US Forest Service website as of the morning of June30, 2007

Fire Activity will be light today. Winds 5-10 mph, Temperatures in the mid 70s. Angora Ridge remains closed.

Nearing the Fourth of July holiday, looters and people using illegal fireworks in the Tahoe Basin remain a concern. Consequently, the Sheriff’s Office and the City of South Lake Tahoe Police Department will be strictly enforcing the fireworks prohibition.

Residents can expect heightened patrol in and around the burned areas.

Friday, June 29, 2007

June 29 Community Meeting

The third and what is expected to be final community meeting was attended by hundreds of residents on June 29 at South Tahoe Middle School.

Some facts:

1. fire is 80 percent contained
2. an illegal campfire started the 3,100 acre inferno
3. no suspects
4. when caught, the culprits could have to pay for fire suppression costs
5. those costs are expected not to exceed $15 million
6. fire started at Seneca Pond, 150 yards from the nearest road ... this area is popular with locals, mountain bikers, etc.
7. Donna Deaton, fire investigator, does not believe it was intentionally set
8. reports of a meth lab being found in the burn area are false
9. 254 houses destroyed, that number could still go up, according to a sheriff's deputy
10. NO commercial buildings were destroyed
11. USFS hopes to have responses to questions from previous meetings on website in a few days
12. at the peak 2,197 firefighters were on the scene; today there were 1,335; Saturday expect 600-700; Sunday down to 500
13. through the weekend the area from North Upper Truckee at Grizzly Mountain to Lake Tahoe Boulevard at Sawmill Pond Road will remain open only to residents
14. El Dorado County Deputy DA Hans Uthe said his folks, those from the State Contractors License Board and State Insurance Office will be out in force to answer questions and arrest anyone trying to prey on locals "It's serious business. People will take what little you have left. You've had enough pain and don't need anymore," he said.
15. one burned out resident retold a story of having been to her place on Thursday, came back Friday and beer bottles were on the lot and a few remaining items disturbed
16. El Dorado County Board of Supervisors at the regularly scheduled July 3 meeting are expected to discuss fast-tracking the permitting process to rebuild and a possible reduction in costs for those permits.
17. LTCC is hosting the bulk of the agencies who will be able to people get on with their lives.

Workshop about rebuilding

The Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce is hosting a workshop for people who need to rebuild all or part of their home as a result of the Angora fire. Experts from permitting agencies will help explain the process to rebuild.

The meeting is Thursday, July 5 at the Super 8 Motel banquet room from 5-7 p.m.

For more information, call 530.544.5050, ext. 229

Reuters story, June 29 afternoon

Crews hold line in six-day California Tahoe blaze
Fri Jun 29, 2007 7:43PM EDT
By Kathryn Reed

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif., June 29 (Reuters) - Firefighters have prevented a six-day-old wildfire near California's Lake Tahoe from spreading into some of the resort area's most densely populated neighborhoods, officials said on Friday.

The Angora Fire, which broke out on Sunday in rugged forest terrain filled with bone-dry timber south of Lake Tahoe, is 70 percent contained, they said.

The blaze has consumed 3,100 acres (1,250 hectares), 254 homes and 75 commercial buildings in an area which is one of California's most scenic attractions anchoring a popular alpine recreation area on the state's border with Nevada.

Losses are estimated to be as much as $150 million. In some neighborhoods, only foundations and other hardened structures of homes survived the conflagration.

Kitty Babb, 79, lost her home of 30 years. One of the few items Babb saved as she fled the fire was an American flag from her late husband's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.

"I won't rebuild," Babb said. "I'm moving to Minden (Nevada) to be with my son."

John and Gloria Sawyer found little remained of their second home, which had been occupied by a renter.

"He didn't get anything out," Gloria Sawyer said.

More than 2,000 firefighters backed by helicopters and airplanes dropping water and repellent and 166 engines have labored to prevent further losses.

They have focused their efforts in recent days on the fire's northern containment line on the edge of residential neighborhoods of the town of South Lake Tahoe.

Although an advisory for strong winds remains in place, officials expect the fire will be fully under control by Tuesday evening.

Fire crew members throughout the week have said the blaze likely was caused by humans, but were uncertain if it was set accidentally or intentionally.

Despite the fire and damage, tourists were expected to swarm Lake Tahoe for the Fourth of July holiday week.

School district info

This is from Lake Tahoe Unified School District, June 29, 2007:

Dear Friends,

I hope you are all holding up ok through the crisis. I’m sorry I haven’t been forwarding e-mails but you are all probably inundated with various information from radio TV, newspapers, and email, as we are here. I am thankful that our home survived in Angora Highlands and that I may be able to go home soon, but saddened by the loss suffered by many others, including my youngest son, Emmet and the Freeman family who lost their home.

Sixteen members of our LTUSD family are confirmed to have lost their homes.

South Tahoe Educators Association is raising money to help all school district employees in need. If you are able to make a financial donation, please make checks out to STEA and send to Angora Fire Fund, PO Box 13206, SLT, CA 96151 or contact Mike Patterson ( 545-1347).

You won’t be hearing from me much in July as I am still planning to get married next Saturday and taking some time off. The Education Center will be open all summer and if you have a question, you can always drop by or call 541-2850.

Below are some e-mails that I received that may be of help to you. This catastrophe can only make our already tight-knit community stronger. We are deeply indebted to all of the firefighters, police officers, sheriffs, ambulance drivers, Red Cross Workers, emergency personnel, and everyone who responded so well to this fire.

Stay well.
Angie Freeman

Fundraiser July 5

> July 5th Heavenly Village First Thursday
> TSI and Blue Sky Events will donate 100% of Proceeds
> and all Raffle Money and Donations will go directly to
> at The Boys and Girls Club Children Victims of the Angora Fire:
> There are five families in the Boys and Girls Club that lost their
> homes
> in the Angora Fire. All proceeds will go directly to those
> children in need.

Angora Fire Fundraiser

A fundraiser Grand 58 concert
for Angora Fire victims

this Friday night, June 29
9:00 pm - 2:00 am
at Rojo's in South Lake Tahoe

$5 cash donation requested at the door

All proceeds will benefit the musicians friends and neighbors who have been displaced from the Fire.

Scam artists in Tahoe

This is from the police chief in South Lake Tahoe, June 29, 2007

We are already beginning to hear of scam artist, illegal contractors, and gypsies coming to town to prey on the victims of this fire. Jurisdictionally, most of these issues will be handled by the Insurance Commission, Contractors Board, along with the District Attorney’s Office; however, we must be prepared as they will be operating within our town.

Please insure we dispatch an Officer to all complaints received and a report is generated. From Detectives, please assign a liaison Detective (single point of contact) to coordinated with allied agencies on these scams. Our stance will be zero tolerance, like you, I have no patience for persons seeking to profit from these victims.

Also, Fred Mercado will be investigating and tracking potential scams brought to the City’s attention. Please have our Detective coordinate with the City Attorney’s Office.

Thanks, Terry
Terry Daniels
Chief of Police

Kirkwood -- Donations

This is a press release sent by Kirkwood on June 29, 2007


Kirkwood Chairman first to donate and help the community

(Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Kirkwood, Calif.) – Kirkwood Mountain Resort has established a relief fund and a collection site for food and clothing to assist those affected by the Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe. Temporary lodging is also being provided to employees and their families.

Portions of Kirkwood’s Angora Fire Relief Fund will be directed to Kirkwood employees and their families who have been displaced or lost belongings; additional funds will be sent to the American Red Cross to help other South Lake Tahoe residents.

The Angora Fire has impacted many lives in South Lake Tahoe, including many employed at Kirkwood. The homes of at least two Kirkwood employees have been completely destroyed and several other families are displaced and waiting to return home.

Collectively the Kirkwood community is responding to the needs of employees. Homeowners have opened their residences to those employees needing temporary lodging, clothing, food and basic necessities. The Angora Relief Fund has been created to assist victims over the longer term as the impact will be felt for many months.

“Our thoughts are with all of those affected by this fire,” says Chip Seamans, Kirkwood’s Chief Operating Officer and General Manager. “The Kirkwood Community has close ties to the South Lake area and is working together to help our staff and others who are waiting to return home or rebuild.” Seamans continued.

The first to donate to Kirkwood’s Angora Fire Relief Fund was Chuck Cobb, Chairman of Mountain Springs Corporation which owns Kirkwood Mountain Resort. Mr. Cobb donated $1,000 to help initiate the drive. The relief fund now has over $5,000 to aid those in need.

Donations are being accepted at the Kirkwood General Store and the Lodging Front Desk and will be gratefully accepted at the KVFD barbecue on Saturday, June 30. Also, checks can be made out to the Angora Fire Relief Fund and mailed to the Kirkwood Community Association at PO Box 158 Kirkwood, CA 95646.

For more information about Kirkwood relief efforts, please call 209-258-6000 or visit

TRPA -- Starting to rebuild

This is a press release sent out by TRPA on June 29, 2007


Lake Tahoe-CA/NV – In an effort to improve public understanding of the regulations relating to tree removal and forest health, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) has pledged to help coordinate the multiple agencies involved in vegetation management at Lake Tahoe , Agency officials said today, 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.

“Any changes made to vegetation and forest health procedures going forward must be based on science along with the input of the community,” said John Singlaub , Executive Director. “TRPA hopes the community will move into a healing phase after the fire is contained, and again, our hearts go out to our friends and neighbors who have lost so much.”

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is a bi-state environmental planning and regulatory agency at Lake Tahoe . Our mission is to cooperatively lead the effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region now and in the future. The Agency regulates development at Lake Tahoe and spearheads an environmental restoration program for the Tahoe Basin . For more information, contact Julie Regan at (775) 589-5237 or Jeff Cowen at (775) 589-5278 .


Angora Fire Donations

Take advantage of a great way to support those in South Lake Tahoe effected by the fire!

Safeway at Bijou is DOUBLING every donation made for the Angora Fire Fund. Help those in our community who were effected by the fire by making a donation -- Your $10 becomes $20, your $50 becomes $100!

All proceeds are distributed directly to those in need in South Lake Tahoe.

No cut-off date has been established at this time.

Lake Tahoe -- Fourth of July

This is from Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority from a couple days ago, so note that stats are not the most up-to-date, though the tourism aspects are accurate:



Extensive Local Recovery Effort Under Way

Highway 50 Open to Visitors in Both Directions; Clear Blue Skies for July 4th Holiday

( South Lake Tahoe , Calif. ) – Demonstrating the resiliency, neighborly concern and determination reflective of a small, tight-knit mountain community, South Lake Tahoe has been moving forward to help locals who have suffered losses in the Angora Fire, which fire officials expect to be fully contained by Tuesday, July 3.

The fire is currently 55% contained, with flames extinguished. With yesterday’s lighter winds, crews continued to make excellent progress on building and strengthening fire lines, maintaining structure protection and working into the fire perimeter to cool hot spots.

Residents of Lake Tahoe, one of the country’s most popular destination resorts, were further bolstered by a progressive day on the fire front Wednesday and optimistic comments at an area press conference from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said, “Right now it is safe to come to Lake Tahoe and I hope people and families will enjoy their weekend here because it is one of the most beautiful areas in the entire world.” For press conference video and notes, visit: Governor Invites Families to Tahoe

Local lodging properties, casinos, restaurants, ski resorts and businesses – small and large, have been providing free rooms and meals for fire victims. “Everyone who has been impacted will have a roof over their head and food to eat,” said Mike Bradford, President of Lakeside Inn & Casino and member of the Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance.

“Local businesses immediately jumped in to do whatever they could,” said Bradford . “From Heavenly providing its California Base Lodge as fire command center to Tahoe Daily Tribune providing a drop center for food and clothing to KRLT radio’s timely information to Harrah’s and Harveys Casinos, The Chateau at Heavenly Village, Cedar Room, Nepheles, Red Hut restaurants, and so many other businesses offering food for the emergency crews, the outpouring of help has been tremendous. And our attention will continue with long term assistance.”

David Hoffman, a San Jose, Calif. real estate attorney on vacation with his wife, Debby, at South Shore, commented, “I’ve never seen such a spirit of cooperation. This town has really pulled together to help each other.” Commenting on the effects of the fire, Hoffman said, “We’ve always felt safe since the fire was miles from the center of town. Now that the flames are out and the skies have cleared, we can enjoy the Lake activities.”

While the fire threat still exists with smoldering in the stricken residential rural area 6 miles west of the state line area, officials are cautiously optimistic and hopeful that predicted afternoon winds today dissipate like yesterday.

Leaders of the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce, which represents business on both sides of the California/Nevada state line, have established the “Locals For Locals” Angora Fire Fund to accept donations to help victims in the outlying residential area who’ve been affected. Many of the larger businesses have already made funding commitments including the Casinos, Vail Resorts, Aramark, Raley’s Supermarkets and the NBC Sports’ American Century Championship, the celebrity golf tournament.

Donations are welcome from any source: individuals, businesses – small companies or large corporations, from in or outside the area. To make a donation, please mail to “Locals For Locals Angora Fire Fund”, U.S. Bank, P.O. Box 17640, South Lake Tahoe , CA 96151 , attn: Jenny Domingo, or call 530-542-1801. Discussion is also underway among South Shore ’s casinos regarding major fundraisers involving celebrity concerts, performances and other events.

Many area businesses are also setting up additional fundraising efforts to support people who have lost their homes including Sierra-at-Tahoe and Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

“We all have friends and neighbors who’ve suffered losses. And because it’s a small town, we’re all affected,” said Carl Ribaudo, Chairman of the Chamber Board. “There’s no way to describe the heartbreak of those who’ve lost their homes – it’s devastating. And while the firefighters complete their job, we need to help our friends with assistance and that assistance is ensuring the economy does not suffer and further impact the local community.”

“Locals are the fabric of this town – it’s what makes Tahoe a great place to visit and we need to take care of them,” stated Ribaudo. “We also need to be prepared to take care of the thousands of visitors we’ll have here next week in the way they’re accustomed.”

The fire that jumped the line Tuesday was immediately contained around a forested residential neighborhood. Thanks to the inspired and cooperative efforts of some 1,900 firefighters it has not spread to more neighborhoods or areas frequented by visitors to the area.

The Fourth of July, one of the area’s traditionally most popular periods next week, raises hopes that visitors will resume their love affair with one of the country’s most spectacular natural wonders. Just two days following the outbreak of the Angora Fire, safety issues throughout the area have been restored; U.S. Highway 50, the main artery from Northern California , is open with no restrictions; the air is clearing; and all tourism attractions including entertainment, dining and all outdoor and lake-related recreational activities are open and accessible.

The traditional Independence Day celebration will include “Lights on the Lake ,” the annual July 4th fireworks extravaganza, which is rated one of the Top Five fireworks shows in the country. The fireworks are conducted from barges on the Lake assuring safety.

“Tourism officials were the first to question the appropriateness of holding an event in light of the Angora Fire,” said Patrick Kaler, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. “The overwhelming feeling was it would serve to highlight the area’s spirit and resiliency throughout the country, that Lake Tahoe recovery is underway.”

The annual pyrotechnics spectacular attracts an estimated 100,000 spectators for an astounding show on the one of the world’s most beautiful stages. The American Pyrotechnics Association determined the “must-see” ranking based on the quality, variety, choreography and volume of fireworks.

The rest of the summer line-up at South Shore includes celebrity golf with the 18th annual American Century Championship July 10-15 and the Harveys Outdoor concert series with Beyonce, Rascal Flatts and Toby Keith.

For more information about headliner entertainment, summer activities and lodging at South Shore Lake Tahoe, please visit

For information about South Shore Lake Tahoe, call the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, 1-800-AT-TAHOE (1-800-288-2463) or log onto

Lake Tahoe -- Tourism

This is from the Nevada Commission on Tourism on June 29, 2007:

The Angora Fire near South Lake Tahoe has made national headlines, and we know that friends of the Reno-Tahoe region are concerned for those affected by the fire. Our thoughts are with the families and individuals who lost homes in the 4.7-square-mile fire and we are very thankful that there have been minimal injuries and no loss of life reported to date.

The fire is located approximately 60 miles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport west of the city of South Lake Tahoe , Calif. While conditions continue to change, currently the 2,000 fire personnel on the scene have reached 70 percent containment and full containment is expected by July 3 according to the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection.

Interstate 80 and access points around the lake are open, and air service to Reno-Tahoe International Airport has not been affected by the fire. Hotels and hospitality businesses throughout Reno , Sparks , North Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe and other parts of the lake are accessible and open for business. The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority yesterday announced that South Lake Tahoe ’s July 4th fireworks, “Lights on the Lake ,” will be dedicated to the firefighters.

An AP article headlined “Blue Skies over Tahoe; End Seems Near” was filed this morning and is accessible at:

For updates on the Angora Fire, please visit the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection’s Web site at:

or the Lake Tahoe Visitor Authority’s Web site at:

For a map of the impacted area, please visit:

For information about relief efforts, please visit:

Kind Regards,

Mary Paoli

Angora Fire -- Wildlife

Tom and Cheryl Millham run Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. This is from them:
This is what we did at LTWC today (June 29, 2007)

This is the first wildlife 'victim' of the Angora Fire (which started
last Sunday), that LTWC has been called on.

Thought you might like to see it. Also, check out our web site for
more info on the fire. (

We are OK and the fire is NOT endangering our house nor our center.
For those of you who have called and/or e-mailed, we thank you so much
for your concern.


Angora Fire -- June 29, morning

From an email to family and friends:

OK, one more from me. But it's all good news.

Containment is still at 70 percnet, but he crews made progess overnight to establish a 300-foot mop up line. They are taking out snags 500 feet in.

Highway 89 is open. Mandatory evacuation still for the homes closest to Hwy 89 and near 15th Street. For those who know the area, 15th Street is the back way into the Tahoe Keys, which my house backs to.

July 3 is still the magic full containment date -- fully controlled is another matter without a date being predicted.

Resources this morning (and these have changed throughout the fire based on needs of more in the air, etc.): 49 hand crews, 166 engines, 4 helicopters, 21 water tenders. There are 2,008 people working the fire either literally putting it out or coordinating efforts.

At the height, nearly 2,200 firefighters were on the line. Signs are all over town thanking them, cookies and water brought out by neighbors, restaurants not taking their money.

Most hotels have opened rooms up for free to locals. Now begins the chore or finding more permanent temporary housing. Most I've talked to want to rebuild.

I've heard horror stories of those who are underinsured. Even the state insurance commissioner gave a 5-minute lecture on the importance of renewing homeowners and renters insurance policies on an annual basis. It costs more to rebuild and replace things each year. Up the deductible to afford it. You'll come up with a $5,000 deductible easier than ten or hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace all that you have. It doesn't take a natural disaster to destroy a home.

Assuming the crews get the Angora fire out we are looking at 254 homes and 75 commercial buildings destroyed; another 26 homes are damaged, but will eventually be able to be occupied.

A friend who lost everything said he expects life to resume to normal in a year -- he's married with two sons.

I can only imagine counseling will be needed for so many to work through this.

The problem I'm hearing with the houses that are still standing is the smoke damage. Secondhand I heard of someone wanting to tear down to the foundation and start over. The smoke is so pervasive.

Just the structural loss is at $141 million. That will grow as contents and other items are tallied.

Cost to fight the fire to date is $8.3 million. At one point total cost was predicted to be $30 million. A couple days ago the incident commander, Rich Hawkins, revised that to $15 million.

Winds are expected to be much less today than originally forecast -- between 5-14 mph. Though gusts could still reach into the 30s.

Again, the cause should be released tonight at the 8 p.m. community meeting.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sierra-at-Tahoe chips in


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – June 25, 2007 – South Lake Tahoe residents affected by the Angora Fire are welcome to bring any towable assets to Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort for storage until alternative arrangements can be made. Trailers, RVs, Motorcycles, Boats, etc . . . can be stored in C lot. Please call 530.659.7453 x400 for more information or come to the Administration building at Sierra™ Resort Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Evacuees who plan to live in their RV until they can get back into their home are welcome to do so at Sierra Resort but should be aware that no facilities are scheduled to operate during the summer. There are no water, power or sewer hookups available, so units must be self-contained.

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort employees who have been affected by the Angora Fire should call Human Resources at 530.659.7453 x116.

About Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort is the closest major snowsport resort to Sacramento and is located on Highway 50, just 12 miles south of Lake Tahoe . Known for its wind protected slopes, incredible tree skiing and some of the nation’s best parks and pipes, Sierra Resort receives more than 560 inches of snowfall annually. For more information, visit or call 530.659.7453.

Heavenly gives back -- June 26

Vail Resorts and Heavenly are donating a minimum of $75,000 to the
members of the South Lake Tahoe community affected by the Angora Fire.

Angora Fire Chamber update -- June 28

Thursday June 28, 2007

Chamber Community Update – 2:ooPM

From: B. Gorman

Please feel free to distribute

Sorry you did not get an update directly in your email from me on Tuesday and Wednesday. We had some technical difficulties and were only able to put the updates onto the website. We are back up and running and here you go!

As a community we extend our gratitude to the 2200 firefighters and the 200 law enforcement officers who are working hard to protect lives and property. The fire is at 55% containment with fire officials striving for full containment by Tuesday July 3rd. We are exceptionally grateful to all of those men and women who are fighting for our town and we also thank the motels, casinos and restaurants that have been welcoming the fire fighters by providing hot meals, sandwiches and rooms all week.

Being a small town we have all been touched either directly or indirectly and we all want to help our neighbors. Towards that end we have begun to move into the healing and recovery phase and thus the Chamber will do our best to update you on where resources are available and efforts being made to help our community in moving forward together.


Those who have sustained any amount of damage should go to the college to the Local Agency Center (LAC) being coordinated by the Red Cross. There they will be asked to complete an estimate of damage (in some cases this will be without knowing the extent yet) by an Office of Emergency Services (OES) representative. These estimates will be compiled and submitted to President Bush in an effort to qualify the area for Federal Assistance. This initial submission will be done within 48 hours with the final version being submitted in two weeks, thus it is imperative that families go to the LAC soon.

The LAC is being staffed from 10AM to 7PM for the next three weeks. The center is staffed with Mental Health counselors from El Dorado County and the Red Cross to assist people in dealing with the emotional strain. Families will also be able to speak with representatives from insurance companies as well as county and state agencies to begin the process of claiming their loss and moving forward.


The Locals for Locals Angora Fire Fund was set up immediately to assist those impacted by the fire. Donors can go to US Bank or mail their donation to Locals for Locals Angora Fire Fund at PO Box 17640, South Lake Tahoe , CA 96151 . This fund is unrelated to Chamber finances and a separate board of local community leaders will coordinate distribution of these funds with a focus on helping people fill in needs not met by immediate disaster relief agency funds with all monies staying local.

The Red Cross has indicated that there are already more than sufficient donations of food, toiletries, and clothing at the various locations which were set up as drop spots. If you know of someone in need of these sorts of items please direct them to one of the locations listed on the website with the Sierra Recovery Center at 1137 Emerald Bay Road being the central location.

Businesses wanting to do a percentage of their sales donation can contact Jana Ney Walker at 530.544.6119 to participate in the Tahoe Businesses Who Care Program.


Evacuees requiring temporary housing should go to the Rec. Center on Rufus Allen where they will be directed to a short term housing location. Many motels and hotels are donating their rooms to house families.

The South Tahoe Realtors Association is compiling a comprehensive list of homes, condos and apartments that will be made available for long term usage as families need to start moving out of motels, hotels and family or friend’s homes. This will enable people to establish a temporary home in order to return to work and begin to create some sort of new routine for themselves. If you have such a property that you are interested in providing for this purpose please contact Cheryl Murakami (President of Realtors Association) at or call her at 530.577.4048. This list will be available via Cheryl, the Chamber and provided to the insurance companies.

Additionally, the Tahoe Douglas Rotary Club has contacted members who have homes that they are willing to open to those in need. For additional information on opening your home or finding one to stay in you should call 775.588.6616

The Future:

First and foremost we are encouraging survivors of the fire to take their time and seek help from trusted local community experts before they sign off on any contracts for services and settlements.

I have been in contact with experts from other communities that have experienced natural disasters and we will shortly release some information on plans for helping to heal our community that have worked well in other areas.

Questions have begun to arise as to how our community will move forward with the 4th of July activities. At this time the fireworks display is scheduled to take place. Fire Official Rich Hodkins stated at yesterday’s press conference that he feels that the community will be ready to move forward with a safe Fourth of July fireworks display and this opinion was also expressed by Governor Schwarzenegger during his press conference.

Relief Efforts:

Thanks to a very giving and tight knit community we have many organizations planning events to assist the survivors seeking help from the Chamber. In an effort to be fair, community minded and not inundate our members with multiple daily email blasts we are going to send out one blast on Fridays where your organization will be listed in a single blast along with other organizations seeking support, donations and attendance.

Thank you all for pulling together as a community to help our neighbors!

Help for kids of Angora Fire -- June 28

Help us support our kids and families


This is a fun event for the kids so they can take their minds off of the stresses of the "Angora Fire" for at least a few hours. We will be giving the affected kids a chance to be kids and have some fun, while letting them know their community loves them and they are not alone in this. We will also be giving mom and dad an opportunity to spend some much needed time with each other to talk and evaluate, knowing their kids are having fun in a safe environment.

“FIREBREAK" will be from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Saturday, June 30 at Lake Tahoe Christian Fellowship Church , 3580 Blackwood. Their will be lots of fun activities along with visits from some firefighters, some gymnastics exhibitions and maybe "Smokey the Bear” will show up! We are asking local restaurants to donate dining gift certificates for this specific event. Please help us provide a little respite for these affected families.

Please see the attached for reservation information.

Thank you,

Dan Herrera

Children's Pastor LTCF

(530) 545-0830

Heavenly opens Gondola -- June 29

Suspended Due to the Angora Wildfire, Gondola Operations Will Resume in Time for
Fourth of July Holiday

Heavenly Mountain Resort, Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev. – June 29, 2007 – Heavenly Mountain
Resort announced today that the Heavenly Gondola will reopen for summer sightseeing beginning 10am, Friday, June 29, 2007. Heavenly had suspended operations due to the Angora Wildfire, but with the fire nearing containment and the Fourth of July holiday right around the corner, Heavenly officials decided to resume normal summer operations.

Angora Fire -- June 28, evening

Email to family and friends:

The fire is 70 percent contained.

Full containment expected still on July 3. They give a sort of worst-case prediction, so it's likely to be sooner.

Like today, Weather Service has issued another red flag warning for Friday.

Though it was windy today, it did not impede efforts to extinguish the blaze. However, on the ridge the gusts could reach 60 mph tomorrow and in the 30 mph range at the lake.

Worst injury to date was a broken hand by a firefighter when boulder fell on him.

More people each day are able to return to their homes.

The same mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders are in place. That means we are still in voluntary mode -- we are choosing to stay.

The third town meeting will be Friday night. Officials say the cause of the blaze will be revealed then.

ps .. thanks again for all the good thoughts ... it has been stressful for everyone here and for those worrying about us ... the community has really rallied around each other ... it's inspiring to see humanity be so caring and compassionate

Angora Fire -- June 28, morning

Next email to family and friends:

Fire is 55 percent contained ... officials this morning said that is a conservative number. Still at 3,100 acres. Expected full containment on July 3.

Weather is cooperating, though winds could hit 35 mph today. Weather Service is caling this a "red flad warning" day -- we've had a few of them.

229 homes destroyed or uninhabitable

50 more still to assess so the nos. could go up

Mandatory and voluntary evacuations are still in effect. We are still in voluntary, but are staying in the house.

690 residences still threatened, 275 commercial structures.

The loss to structures is estimated at $141 million. That does not include belongings, vehicles, or the cost to replace the 120 power poles lost in the devastation.

hotel cancellations are between 10-20 percent for this weekend

July 4 fireworks still going forward

no backfires have been lighted in this fire .. they were "burn outs" on Gardner Mountain ... when spot fires occur firefighters link them like a dot-to-dot.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation ... point of origin iso a rock outcroppoing near Seneca Pond

Angora Fire -- June 27, afternoon

Another email to friends and family:

Latest on Reuters: ... though I have phoned in an update that should be posted soon.

Guvs of CA and NV and the Lt. guvs and CA's ins. commish had a press conference at 1 today. No one said much of interest. They are working to have Tahoe be declared a national disaster area.

Fire is expected to be contained on July 3. Still at 3,100 acres, 44 percent contained.

The fire is one-half mile from Highway 89 between 15th Street and as the road narrows going to Camp Rich. (That's for those who know the area.) It's one mile from the lake. And, although the lake would put the fire out, a whole lotta homes would go up before that happened -- 950 residences remain threatened along with 350 miscellaneous structures, mostly commercial buildings.

We are still in voluntary evac mode. This morning we took things to Roni and Brenda's ... another thank you to them. And thanks to everyone who has offered us lodging and good wishes.

The winds, as predicted, have picked up. Not sure what that will mean to us. I'll be taking Bailey and the computer with me to the 6 p.m. briefing and 8 pm community meeting at the middle school -- in case all hell breaks loose again or worse.

A Forest Service official told me off the record that the fire started from an illegal campfire. No one will go on the record with that. Reuters won't print it without attribution -- probably a good thing -- but no reason to believe the person is giving me bad info. No word of anyone being detained-arrested in connection with the fire.

Idiots are looting evacuated homes ... some have been caught.

The fire is expected to cost $29 million to fight; losses are in excess of $150 million.
The fire yesterday on Gardner Mountain scorched one deck, but that's it. Too amazing to go up there today and see 100 foot pines charred. And to think yesterday it was a thriving forest.

Runoff from winter rain, spring snowpack or a summer thunderstorm will be horrid and devasting ... so even when the fire is out we will still have many environmental issues to deal with beyond rebuilding the 200+ homes that have been destroyed.

More later ...

Angora Fire -- June 25

Another email:

Went to a town meeting tonight where at least 1,000 people were in attendance. The big news is that 100 percent containment is expected on July 1. The fire is now 40 percent contained.

Still no real cause .. rumors of campfire and kids with matches ... but there have been lots of rumors about lots of things ... so we'll see.

Smoke is dissipating some. Ash was coming down like crazy most of the day at our house. I keep finding out about more people I know who have lost their homes ... but still no injuries-casualties ... I guess that's the best part about all of this.

People are donating like crazy ... goods, money, food, time. Funny thing is the Forest Service has a policy that does not allow massage therapists to go into the fire camps. Apparently the damn media took photos of this taking place in SoCal and it gave the impression that the firefighters were slacking off ... so much for giving back in that manner.

Here's the latest Reuters story:

And the NY Times: is doing regular updates.

Thanks for all your kind thoughts ...

Angora Fire -- Lake Tahoe -- June 25 9:30 a.m.

The following is an email I sent to family and friends:

We are doing fine ... thanks everyone for checking in. However, the fire is not very far away -- only a small percentage is contained -- and the threat to town is still real.

Smoke is in the air and ash falling all around. Yesterday chunks of ash fell in our yard-- that was really scary. The fire as of 9 this morning was at the edge of the high school. We have friends who've been evacuated and don't know about their homes. We have acquaintances who know for sure have lost their houses.

Sue is writing for the Trib and I imagine they'll have regular updates later today ... I'll probably be doing a follow-up story for Reuters. And I'm in the process of getting the OK from the command center for a group of massage therapists to work on the crews.

No wind at the house and hopefully that's the same for the fire area. It was gusty yesterday... up to 40 mph.

My cousin and his wife just moved to the Carson Valley and called to offer us shelter there if need be. Fingers are crossed there will be no need for that.

Think good thoughts ...