Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Aug. 24 Angora golf fundraiser

Angora Fire
Charity Golf Outing
4 Person Scramble

3:00 PM Shotgun Start
Friday, August 24, 2007
Lake Tahoe Golf Course

Entry Fee: $75 per player for golf and dinner
$30 per person for dinner only

Price Includes Greens Fees, Cart Fees, Range Balls, Tee Gifts, Raffle Tickets, and Awards Dinner.

2pm – Registration, warm up, silent auction
3pm – Golf
8pm – Awards Dinner and Cocktails
Silent Auction
Raffle Prizes
Live Music by Mark Wilson

All Proceeds will be donated to the
Angora Fire Fund “locals for locals”

To register, call 530-577-0788 ext 7, or visit the pro shop
at Lake Tahoe Golf Course .

Angora detours and donations

By Cathy Locke - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 pm PDT Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A road detour is in effect through Saturday near South Lake Tahoe due to Angora fire debris removal.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department's Office of Emergency Services announced that traffic will be detoured off Mount Rainier Drive for the safety of the public and work crews. Motorists are directed to use Mount Shasta Circle from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., while debris removal crews are working in the area, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

The California Integrated Waste Management Board, in coordination with El Dorado County, has committed $7 million to aid in removing tons of scorched debris on forest lands and private properties, according to the news release.

More information about the Angora Debris Removal Project is available at www.ciwmb.ca.gov/disaster/angorafire07 or www.co.el-dorado.ca.us/Angora.

Individuals, faith-based groups, businesses and community organizations also have raised $104,000 to aid fire victims through the Angora Fire Fund "Locals for Locals" campaign, and an additional $160,000 has been promised, according to a recent news release issued by the fund's board of directors.

"The fund was set up to receive and distribute monies locally so that clubs, corporations and individuals would have a place to put their donations without worrying about whether a large percentage of the contributions would be spent on administrative costs or end up elsewhere," board member Wendy David said in the news release.

She said the fund does not have paid staff members nor does it pay for office space. David said the 11-member board has been meeting every Thursday afternoon for about three hours, with subcommittees meeting in between to speed the assistance process.

Board member John Packer said in the news release that $10,000 was distributed by the Sierra Community Church and a second round of checks was mailed Friday.

The Angora Fire Fund is accepting applications and distributing funds to people who lost their primary residence in the fire. Upon verification of residency, the fund provides up to $1,000 per household to assist with immediate needs. Fire survivors who have immediate needs must submit applications by Aug. 30 to receive assistance through the first round of distributions.

A second distribution round for more long-term needs will begin in the fall, based on available resources, according to the news release.

Donations to the Angora Fire Fund may be made online at www.helptahoe.com or in person at any US Bank. Contributions also may be mailed to the Angora Fire Fund (Locals for Locals), P.O. Box 17640, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96151.

Applications for funds are available at the California or Nevada visitor centers, or at board members' businesses. Board members are listed at www.helptahoe.com, and the application is available on the Web site.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Aug. 11 Angora related parade

South Lake Tahoe parade to honor all public service agencies who extinguished the Angora Fire

Community invited to show their gratitude to all entities involved in Angora Fire effort

July 30, 2007

On Aug. 11 South Shore’s tight-knit community will come together to honor the many firefighters, Forest Service staff, sheriff, police and highway patrol officers, utility companies and all other city and county agencies who aided in extinguishing the Angora Fire. A community appreciation parade will be held on Saturday, Aug. 11, from 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. in South Shore Lake Tahoe along US Highway 50.

The parade will consist of 40-60 law enforcement vehicles driving along Highway 50, beginning at the Horizon Casino parking lot, and concluding at the Miller’s Outpost shopping center at the Y. Highway 50 will remain open east and west bound; however, west bound traffic will be reduced to one lane as the parade procession passes through town.

“We felt it was important to come together as a community and show our gratitude for the dedication and hard work of the agencies involved in conquering the Angora Fire,” said Patrick Kaler, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. “The men and women who fought this fire are true heroes, and we are proud to have them as part of our South Shore community.”

Spectators are encouraged to demonstrate their support of South Shore’s public service agencies by lining Highway 50 on designated sidewalks and public spaces along the parade route.

The parade is being organized by the following agencies: South Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, City of South Lake Tahoe, Eldorado County, and the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Comments sought on tree removal

The Angora Fire Hazard Tree Removal Project Opportunity for Public Input through Aug 10

South Lake Tahoe CA. The USDA Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin
Management Unit is proposing the Angora Fire Hazard Tree Removal Project, and is seeking public comment through August 10. This project would use commercial removal of standing hazard trees and recently felled fire-killed trees in the Angora Fire area on approximately 225 acres that pose risk to human life and property.

For the purpose of this project a hazard tree is generally defined as a tree that is void of needles or is absent of any green foliage and is within striking distance of human life or property. Striking distance is considered to be 1 ½ times the height of a tree due to the potential for airborne limbs. Removal methods may include equipment such as chainsaws,
feller-bunchers, skidders, cut to length harvesters, de-limbers,
masticators, chippers, and de-barkers. Landings may be required to
process the hazard trees.

Hazard tree removal would take place only on Forest Service land and within 150 feet of capital improvements. For this project capital improvements include forest system roads, forest system trails, landline boundaries and other private property structures. Hazard trees within stream environment zones (SEZs) adjacent to capital improvements would also be removed. Not all trees would be removed within 150 feet of capital improvements.
Only hazard trees that are within 1 ½ times striking distance of capital improvements would be removed.

Separate from this proposed action, hazard trees are also being planned for removal on Forest Service Urban lots and parcels (ULM) to provide for immediate public safety.

How to comment and Timeframe

A copy of the project proposed action and map can be obtained from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Supervisors office at 35 College Dr, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 96150. Please provide any comments or concerns by August 10, 2007. Written comments may be submitted via mail (address above), fax, or in person to Duncan Leao; FAX (530) 543-2693; or email comments-pacificsouthwest-ltbmu@fs.fed.us using Subject: Angora Hazard Tree Removal Project. Oral comments may be directed to Duncan Leao at
(530) 543-2660.

Money for Angora victims

July 27, 2007

Angora Fire Fund Update

“Locals for Locals”

South Lake Tahoe, CA The flames that destroyed 254 homes and damaged many more have left a community scarred but working together to rebuild itself. Donations to the Angora Fire Fund thus far have reached $104,000 with approximately $160,000 more promised. The fund is being administered by a deeply committed group of local community leaders with representation from the following sectors; Faith based, Service Clubs, Accountant, City Attorney, El Dorado County, Large Business, Social Service Agencies, Small-Med Business, Education and the Chamber of Commerce.

“The fund was set up to receive and distribute funds locally so that clubs, corporations and individuals would have a place to put their donations without worrying about whether a large percentage of the contributions would be spent on administrative costs or end up elsewhere,” Board Member Wendy David said. The fund does not employ any staff nor does it pay for office space. The Board of eleven members has been meeting every Thursday afternoon for approximately three hours along with other sub-committees meeting in between in order to speed up the process.”

“To date the fund has given out $10,000 that was distributed by the Sierra Community Church last weekend,” added Board Member John Packer. “A second round of checks will be mailed on Friday July 27th. As we can only give away what we have received, and we must base those distributions on current assets and credible pledges the board has come up with what we believe is an equitable and prudent distribution system”

The Angora Fire Fund is currently accepting applications and distributing funds to fire survivors who lost their primary residence. Upon verification of residency funds are being distributed up to maximum of $1,000 per household to assist with immediate needs. Households that received $500 of the Locals for Locals money via the Sierra Community Church may be eligible to receive up to another $500 based upon their immediate needs. Those who have already submitted an application for long term needs are able to revise or resubmit for immediate needs. Fire survivors who have immediate needs must submit their applications for this round of funding prior to August 30th.

A second distribution round for more long term needs will then commence this autumn based upon available resources. A new application is not necessary to be considered for additional funds.

“We are optimistic that the fund will grow significantly for that second round based upon the fact that a number of organizations have made inquiry calls as to whether we would accept and distribute funds that they have raised or intend to raise at a variety of events,” David continued. We believe this category of giving will increase as these organizations recognize the inherent challenges of trying to establish criteria and distribute funds. Additionally, this would eliminate the need for families to be put in the position of having to fill out multiple applications on top of the myriad forms they are being forced to do for insurance claims and rebuilding. In order to help us really provide meaningful assistance well into the future we are encouraging those who have not yet made a donation to please consider donating to the Fund.”

Donations are being accepted to the Angora Fire Fund in the following ways: online at www.helptahoe.com ; in person at any US Bank or mail to the Angora Fire Fund (Locals for Locals) PO Box 17640, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96151.

“Thus far the bulk of our donations have come from individuals such as Dr. Mireya Ortega ($1,000) and those who contributed at Costco (over $8,000) and the Meyer’s Community Event (over $15,000) as well as corporate checks from companies such as Park Cattle Company ($10,000), South Tahoe Realtors Association ($5,000) Emerald Realty ($500) and Lakeshore Lodge & Spa ($500). This is only a minor sampling of the list as it is significant and we are unable to identify those who donated directly to US Bank. On behalf of the entire Board and all of the fire survivors we extend our heartfelt gratitude to those who have already given. Donors and fund information will be posted on the website by mid August. We have been very fortunate that Hanna Bernard of Highmark Designs responded to our request and is donating her time to building and updating the website in an effort to help keep the community informed.”

Applications for funding may be picked up at either the California or Nevada Visitor Centers or at any Board Member’s Business. Board Members are listed on www.helptahoe.com and the application is also available on the website. Applications can be mailed to the PO Box or given to any Board Member in a sealed envelope. Information about the specific applicants is considered confidential and will not be made public.

For further information please visit the website or contact any of the board members.

NV names fire commish members


Posted: 7/29/2007

Republican political consultant Sig Rogich and former Nevada Congressman Jim Santini are among the Nevada members of a Nevada-California Tahoe Basin Fire Commission, Gov. Jim Gibbons' office announced Saturday.

Gibbons and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding creating a 23-member commission that will look at the laws that affect wildfire management in the Lake Tahoe Basin. This follows the Angora Fire that started June 24 near South Lake Tahoe and burned more than 250 homes and about 3,100 acres.

In addition to Rogich, Gibbons' campaign advisor, and Santini, who as a member of the House of Representatives co-sponsored the Burton-Santini Act that allows the federal government to buy environmentally sensitive land to protect it from development, Gibbons also appointed:

James M. Wright, Nevada Fire Marshal
Pete Anderson, Nevada Division of Forestry state forester
Michael D. Brown, Chief of North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District and a member of the Nevada Fire Safe Council
John Koster, president of Northern Nevada region of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc.
Bud Hicks, president of the Glenbrook Homeowners Association
Bob Davidson, Lake Tahoe basin homeowner

Serving in non-voting capacity as ex-official members from Nevada are:

Allen Biaggi, director of Nevada Division of Conservation and Natural Resources and a member of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
Leo Drozdoff, administrator of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection

Gibbons is allowed to appoint one more non-voting member. Each governor will appoint eight voting and three non-voting members and the U.S. Forest Service will also appoint a voting member.

"Everyone -- federal and state agencies, residents, management agencies, business owners and environmental entities -- shares a common goal, an environmentally healthy and functioning Lake Tahoe Basin," Gibbons said in a statement. "The Lake Tahoe Basin and the forest resources must be managed by proven forestry practices based on sound science. I look forward to the commission's review of the policies that currently govern forest management in the Tahoe Basin."

Contractors arrested in Angora area

Sacramento Business Journal - 2:58 PM PDT Friday, July 27, 2007

Six people were arrested Thursday on felony charges of contracting without a license during a sting operation led by El Dorado County law enforcement officers and state officials who were keeping an eye out for phony contractors preying on victims of the recent Angora Fire disaster.

Members of the Contractors State License Board fraud team led a combination sweep and undercover sting operation on Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday's sweep through 34 job sites in the fire area found each contractor to be properly licensed.

On Thursday, the fraud team posed as homeowners whose house was destroyed in the fire and invited suspected unlicensed operators to bid on debris removal and various reconstruction projects. Six were arrested for operating without a license. A seventh was charged with a misdemeanor for using an illegal advertisement. Six of the seven were Nevada residents.

The fraud team was joined in the sting by the state Department of Insurance, El Dorado County District Attorney's Office and El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.

Contracting for more than $500 worth of work in a state or federally declared disaster area without a valid California contractor's license is a felony. Punishment may include a fine of up to $10,000 and up to three years in state prison, or both.

CA names bi-state fire commish members

Bee Metro Staff
Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, July 28, 2007

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named a slate of California delegates to a bistate commission that will review laws, policies and practices that affect the vulnerability of the Tahoe basin to wildfires.

The California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission will evaluate ways to reduce the threat of wildfires, and is to submit recommendations by March 21, 2008.

"It is crucial that we all work together to prevent something like the Angora fire from happening again," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "With this action, I know California and Nevada will rise to the occasion and make sure the Lake Tahoe basin remains as safe as it is beautiful."

On Friday, the governor named State Fire Marshal Kate Dargan co-chair of the commission.

Also named as California's voting members: Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ruben Grijalva; California Environmental Protection Agency Undersecretary Cindy Tuck; California Tahoe Conservancy Executive Director Pat Wright; Lake Valley Fire District Chief Jeff Michael; Nevada Fire Safe Council Tahoe Basin coordinator John Pickett; North Lake Tahoe Resort Association board of directors member Ron McIntyre; and Angora fire victim John Upton.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Chair Julie Motamedi and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board Chair Amy Horne were named as nonvoting members.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

SBA loans top $1 million for Angora

By Eric Stern - Bee Staff Writer
Published 7:43 am PDT Thursday, July 26, 2007

The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved more than $1.1 million in federal disaster loans to homeowners, renters and businesses affected by last month's Angora wildfire, the agency announced Wednesday.

The fire burned 254 homes and 3,100 acres in South Lake Tahoe.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged real estate. Homeowners and renters also are eligible for up to $40,000 to replace damaged personal property. Business can borrow up to $1.5 million.

SBA representatives are still issuing loan applications at Lake Tahoe Community College. The filing deadline for property damage is Sept. 4. Small businesses have until April 7, 2008.

For more information, call (800) 659-2955 or go to www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.

Bi-state panel formed

Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons announced Wednesday the formation of a two-state commission in an attempt to prevent future calamities like the one that raged through South Lake Tahoe this summer.

The 3,100-acre Angora Fire swelled from an illegal campfire on June 24 to destroy 254 homes, causing an estimated $153 million in damage in South Lake Tahoe. Efforts to fight the fire and the cleanup afterward cost $23 million.

The 17-member California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission will include eight representatives each from California and Nevada and one U.S. Forest Service representative.

"We must all work together to prevent something like the Angora Fire from happening again," Schwarzenegger said. "We're going to look at the trees, the dead trees, beetle-infested trees, and see how many trees we need to take out. The important thing is we look at the mistakes that may have been made and respond accordingly."

The commission will review all laws, policies and practices regarding wildfires in the Tahoe Basin, which sits in parts of California and Nevada, and come up with ways to reduce the threat. The commission's report will be presented to the two governors next March.

The Angora Fire renewed the national debate over how to manage overgrown forest areas. In many parts of the Western United States and California, years of fire prevention have allowed forests to continue growing unchecked by natural brush fires that, over thousands of years, cleared woodlands of excess debris.

It has been a particular problem in the Lake Tahoe area, prompting forestry officials to begin manually clearing brush from certain areas.

"We all share the same goal, and that goal is the environmental beauty, health and functioning of the Lake Tahoe Basin," Gibbons said. "Catastrophic wildfire is a condition of an unhealthy forest. We want to have the rules changed, to have the policies changed, so that we can make this forest healthy once again."

E-mail Peter Fimrite at pfimrite@sfchronicle.com.

TRPA discusses wildfire

Posted: 7/26/2007

STATELINE -- Regulatory changes must be made soon if Lake Tahoe is to escape another disastrous wildfire, land-use regulators agreed Wednesday.

A month after the Angora Fire swept through 3,100 acres in the South Lake Tahoe area, destroying 254 homes, governors of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency met with landowners, forestry experts and fire officials as efforts accelerate to protect a national landmark from future blazes.

There's no time to lose, TRPA officials were told.

"We need to get this done. We need to get this done now," impassioned South Lake Tahoe resident Jim Weinberg told the governing board.

"Nothing matters now but reducing the threat of fire," Weinberg said. "Your goal is to preserve the lake. If you cannot reduce the threat of fire, you have failed."

Much of Wednesday's discussion centered around forest thinning regulations affecting stream areas, where logging was restricted to protect water quality. The Angora Fire burned most explosively as it rocketed through Angora Creek but calmed significantly when it entered parts of the forest thinned in recent years, officials said.

In 2004, when TRPA made avoiding catastrophic fire its top priority, the agency also relaxed regulations to allow use of mechanical equipment to thin trees in so-called "stream environment zones."

Despite that action, no significant mechanical thinning projects have occurred in Tahoe's stream areas. The Forest Service plans to start in the fall a demonstration project on 23 acres of South Tahoe's Heavenly Valley Creek.

"We've got the stream zones out of the closet," said Coe Swobe, Nevada's at-large appointee to TRPA. "I think we should stop treating stream zones as sacred cows."

Swobe said the issue of preventing fires in Tahoe should be a primary matter addressed during the annual Lake Tahoe Summit on Aug. 17, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other top federal officials will discuss progress made in protecting the lake. Former Vice President Al Gore will be keynote speaker.

El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago, who represents the area burned, said the agency can't afford to wait for next spring's recommendations by a task force on Tahoe fire danger formed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons.

"Folks, the danger is now. We can't wait for the commission," Santiago said. "I think we all agree there's a mess out there we have to clean up."

"We're at the beginning of fire season here," agreed Placer County Supervisor Bruce Krantz. "I want to see what we can do immediately."

No action was taken Wednesday but TRPA officials agreed to consider a variety of steps soon. Placer County officials may require homeowners to establish defensible space around houses or face liens on their property.

Terri Marceron, supervisor of the Forest Service's Tahoe unit, said the government is committed to thinning Tahoe's fire-prone forests but such projects take time.

Since 2004, the Forest Service has secured $22 million from federal land sales near Las Vegas for that purpose and has spent $9 million, Marceron said. Within the next three months, she expects to commit another $3.8 million for nine major projects to thin 2,400 acres around the Tahoe Basin.

"We're spending the money as quick as we get it, but it's a process," Marceron said.

She said more than 600 acres thinned in the area caused the Angora Fire raging through treetops to drop to the ground as intended.

"In the areas we treated fuels, those were the places they were able to protect homes," Marceron said.

John Pickett, California coordinator for the Nevada Fire Safe Council, said planned thinning activity must occur, with overgrown stream areas posing a "particular hazard."

"When we get through with a thinning project it's going to look like hell for a couple of years," he said. "When we get through with a fire like this, it will look like hell for 100 years."

July 25 City Manager's report

Electronic Version
July 25, 2007


“Experience is good- it allows you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.” – Anonymous


At their meeting of July 17, 2007, the South Lake Tahoe City Council directed the City Manager and staff to pursue several courses of action designed to strengthen City fire prevention efforts and respond to fire-safety issues in the Tahoe Region. As the only incorporated city fully within the boundaries of the Tahoe Region, the City Council recognizes and accepts its unique position under Federal law and the State Constitution to protect the environment, lives, and property within the City limits.

The City Council acknowledged through their discussion and action that forest fire is the number one danger to the environment in the Tahoe Basin and all steps necessary must be taken to prevent future fires.

After review and discussion, the City Council did the following:

1. Directed the City Attorney to prepare an ordinance incorporating by reference in the Municipal Code Article 86 of the Uniform Fire Code that sets standards for construction in the Wild Land Urban Interface.

2. Directed City staff to examine appropriate amendments to the Uniform Building Code to correspond with Uniform Fire Code requirements and to better protect new construction from the hazards of fire.

3. Approved $100,000 in additional funding for emergency fire equipment and fuel reduction on City-owned properties and instructed staff proceed with the fuel reduction work as fast as possible.

4. Supported the use of efficient mechanized equipment (like the masticator) to remove fuels in the City limits and the Tahoe Basin and urged other fire protection and regulatory agencies to support the use of this fire-safety equipment. Letters to appropriate agencies will be prepared and sent advising them of the City Council’s request.

As the recent Angora Fire clearly illustrated, fire in the Basin will not wait the ten years called for in the proposed USFS hazard fuel reduction plan. Fuel reduction in the entire basin must be accelerated and additional Federal funding and regulatory relief must be provided to allow the USFS to proceed more rapidly with fuel reduction.

5. Directed the City Attorney to prepare an amendment to the Municipal Code empowering appropriate City departments to take action to ensure that all publicly-owned lands in the City limits are made fire safe in a timely manner.

6. Directed the City Manager to make contact with the California Public Utilities Commission to request their assistance to bring the Lukins Water Company into compliance with water capacity to meet fire suppression requirements and to seek funding for repairs to that system.

7. Supported creation of fire-safe councils within the City limits and South Shore.

8. Supported changes to the term of the current building season from May 1 through October 15th of each year to one based on weather conditions.

9. Supported efforts of the USFS to develop and implement a reforestation plan for forest properties burned in the Angora Fire.


Immediately following the conclusion of the Angora Fire, the USFS dispatched their Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team to the fire scene to undertake an assessment of how to stabilize soils in the burned area and prevent water runoff in the rainy season from polluting City and County drainage systems and spilling over into Lake Tahoe.

The USFS just approved $2,192,205 for work to stabilize the ash and post-fire debris to resist erosion and runoff. The initial work is needed and welcomed as an initial effort. City and County public works administrators fear that this funding and work plan is not enough to prevent toxic runoff from a large-storm event like occurred in early 2006. Lahontan officials expressed similar concerns. Lauri Kemper of Lahontan staff stated the following: “Given the severity of the Angora Fire and the sensitivity of the Lake Tahoe Watershed, the BAER recommendations fall short of the immediate temporary restoration needs.”

City and County public works administrators believe that drainage collection basins are needed to be built on forest service lands to capture toxic runoff in a high-storm event and prevent it from polluting the City and County drainage facilities and the Lake. According to a USFS spokesperson, long-term rehabilitation of the properties is not included in the initial BAER funding package, and this is exactly the problem. USFS plans to evaluate long-term solutions over the next three years.

In response to the lack of immediate funding for adequate drainage facilities to handle large-storm events, TRPA and CTC are working to come up with a funding package to make needed improvements now not later. These agencies’ help is welcome and appreciated. It is unfortunate that TRPA and CTC funds are being used in lieu of funding other environmental enhancement projects to accomplish what the USFS should already be doing.

It is understood that the USFS has limited funds nationwide for damage control after fire incidents. Advocacy is needed at the Federal and State level to gain support for more funding for post-fire remediation efforts to protect water quality in the near term.


This week the City Manager signed a memorandum of understanding with the TRPA to allow trained fire prevention professionals in the City Fire Department to mark trees on private property within the City limits that have been determined to be hazardous and unsafe for removal. This cooperative effort between the City and TRPA helps private property owners to expedite the removal of dangerous trees.

The agreement will be presented to the City Council for ratification at their first Council meeting in August 2007.


We have a fire emergency in the Basin, and it is time to act.
The USFS has proposed a ten year Basin fuel reduction plan that will be formally presented on August 1, 2007. Workshops will be held on August 1st and August 2nd at the Kings Beach Conference Center and the LTCC Aspen Room from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. respectively.

The Draft Plan is a comprehensive document. It provides, “…a 10 year strategy to reduce the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire in the Lake Tahoe Basin.” The report notes that “…even with highly effective suppression resources, the crown fires and sizes of these fires provide additional evidence that fuel hazards in the Basin have increased substantially and will continue to increase in the future…” The report notes that “… the Lake Tahoe Basin has one of highest fire ignition rates in the Sierra Nevada…”
The report also illustrates that catastrophic fire threatens human health and safety, damages watersheds and riparian zones, diminishes water quality, destroys or reduces wildlife habitat, affects “…large scale landscape characteristic and scenic integrity… high tree mortality…” and damage to recreation opportunities, reduce air quality (by emitting “…large amounts of particulate matter [PM 10 and PM 2.5] and carbon monoxide, as well as nitrogen oxides[NOX] and volatile organic compounds [VOCs], which have precursors to ozone…”) and destroys the local economy.
The draft report articulates the importance of reducing fire in the Basin and the impacts of catastrophic fire on the Basin as a whole. USFS officials have stated constraints in implementing the plan. They note that these constraints include “current staffing levels and the availability of qualified mechanical operators…regulatory constraints and administrative constraints…”
Since fire is the number one threat to the environment in the Lake Tahoe Basin as referenced in the USFS draft ten-year plan, City officials are encouraging USFS and Basin regulatory agency executives and policy makers to become advocates for a more aggressive fuel reduction plan (less than ten years), more funds to remove fuel from the Basin and USFS staffing needed to ensure success, and the removal of regulatory barriers to the use of mechanical equipment for fuel reduction on an accelerated basis. I am advised by fire safety advocates that there are qualified mechanical operators and knowledgeable forestry people to remove fuel if the regulations governing fuel removal in the Basin are changed. If the barrier to making the Basin fire safe are the rules and regulations, then change the rules.!

The City Council recognizes that the reduction of fuel cannot wait ten years, and it urges all responsible and affected agencies to support additional Federal funding for fuels reduction and a change in regulations governing fuel reduction to allow it to occur on an accelerated basis. The next fire will not wait or act in accordance with our ten year plan.


Director of Parks and Recreation Gary Moore reports the following:

“I met with Peter Eichar (C.T.C.) and did a walk through at Regan Beach. The C.T.C. agreed to allocate $25,000 directly to “Design Workshop” for conceptual planning design of the Regan Beach facility. Peter is starting the process at C.T.C. and in the near future we should be starting meetings and observations of the property with the design contractor.”

This CTC funding opportunity provides the City Council with a chance to examine options for Regan Beach facilities and amenities for the public. The existing facilities are tired and need attention to maximize the value of this recreation amenity to the community.


Doug Houston provides below the following update on two bills that potentially benefit and influence the direction of planning in our community and grant opportunities for mixed-use development.

AB 1091 , Bass, 07/17/2007
Topic: Transit-Oriented Development Implementation Program.
Current Location: 07/17/2007-S APPR.
Status: 07/17/2007-Read second time, amended, and re-referred to Com. on APPR.
The Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006, authorizes the issuance of bonds in the amount of $2,850,000,000 pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law. Proceeds from the sale of these bonds are required to be used to finance various existing housing programs, capital outlay related to infill development, Brownfield cleanup that promotes infill development, and housing-related parks. The act establishes the Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund of 2006 in the State Treasury, requires the sum of $300,000,000 to be deposited in the Transit-Oriented Development Account, which the act establishes in the fund, and makes the money in the account available, upon appropriation, for expenditure under the Transit-Oriented Development Implementation Program, which is established under existing law under the administration of the Department of Housing and Community Development. This bill would authorize the department to supply certain financial assistance, subject to specified standards, to local governments, redevelopment agencies, and transit agencies for providing the infrastructure necessary for the development of higher density uses, including residential uses, within 1/2 mile of the entrance to a transit station, via a readily walkable route . This bill contains other existing laws.

AB 1358 , Leno, 07/18/2007
Topic: Planning: circulation element: transportation.
Current Location: 07/18/2007-S APPR.
Status: 07/18/2007-Read second time, amended, and re-referred to Com. on APPR.
Position: Support
Existing law requires the legislative body of each county and city to adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan for the physical development of the county or city with specified elements, including a circulation element consisting of the general location and extent of existing and proposed major thoroughfares, transportation routes, terminals, any military airports and ports, and other local public utilities and facilities, all correlated with the land use element of the plan. This bill would require, commencing January 1, 2010, that the legislative body of a city or county, upon any revision of the circulation element of the general plan, modify the circulation element to accommodate the safe and convenient travel of users of streets, roads, and highways, defined to include motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, seniors, movers of commercial goods, and users of public transportation , in a manner that is suitable to the rural, suburban, or urban context of the general plan . By requiring new duties of local officials, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program. This bill contains other related provisions and other existing laws.

City Manager

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bi-state task force update

Who is on the 17-member California-Nevada Tahoe Bain Fire Commission will be released on Friday. But Gov. Jim Gibbons of Nevada at a press confernece July 25 at Lake Valley Fire District in Meyers said at least his representatives consist of residents for the North and South shores of Tahoe as well as fire personnel and elected officials.

I will have more on this in the August Tahoe Mountain News, but will post stories from other media outlets soon.

Message from Rep. Doolittle

Recent Editorial by John T. Doolittle:

Mountain Democrat

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The recent Angora fire near Lake Tahoe should have opened everyone’s eyes as to the need for better forest management. While this fire devastated the lives of the people who lost their homes, and has damaged the fragile ecosystem, it could have been much worse. It was through the magnificent efforts of the firefighters and other public safety personnel, paired with the removal and management of forest fuels that prevented this forest fire from becoming a much worse catastrophe. Now that the fire is 100 percent contained, and the imminent threat is diffused, we must look toward the future, because the long-term threat still remains.

While many of the extreme environmentalists manipulate the facts and claim that proper forest management is really pillaging nature, reality simply contradicts this assertion. Fire experts, including those on the front lines of fighting this fire have consistently stated, "You can see where responsible forest fuels management was done and where it was not", meaning where the fire could be managed versus where it ravaged neighborhoods.

Several years ago, I sponsored with Sen. Feinstein and the Tahoe Congressional delegation from the State of Nevada the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton on November 13, 2000. This bill authorized $300 million over ten years for environmental restoration in the Tahoe Basin, including activities to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. The language of the bill specifically noted that "Approximately 40 percent of the trees in the Lake Tahoe basin are either dead or dying, and the increased quantity of combustible fuels has significantly increased the risk of catastrophic forest fire in the Lake Tahoe basin." Recognizing this reality, I specifically placed fire risk reduction activities in the list of priorities to be considered in allocating funding authorized in the new law. The bill also required that the Forest Service coordinate with state and local agencies, including local fire departments and volunteer groups to conduct these activities, described as "prescribed burning, mechanical treatment, road obliteration or reconstruction, and other activities…the Secretary determines to be appropriate."

Environmental groups have been preventing for years the necessary use of mechanical thinning in stream environment zones and in zones near urban areas. The ash and soot from the Angora fire are real examples of the kind of pollutants that have become possible in the streams since proper thinning was not done. I witnessed this pollution first-hand in my recent visit to the site. All the efforts by the likes of various environmental groups have clearly resulted in one giant mess and created a problem far worse than what their ill-conceived policies intended to protect against. Filthy char-filled streams are now pouring out of the South Lake Tahoe mountains into our lake in great part due to their interference with proper maintenance. It is completely appropriate that they be held accountable. They need to be more reasonable towards mechanical thinning efforts going forward. To his credit, Executive Director Harold Stinger of the often controversial Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, realizes this and has admitted that it is in the stream zones that the Angora fire found its primary path and that "he wants to learn from that and see if there is something he was doing to hamper with fire prevention efforts." It is my hope that officials at the TRPA may wish to reevaluate their policies in light of what we have learned from the fire as well. I think the hundreds who lost their homes in the fire, would likely agree that maybe the area’s popular slogan should be changed to, "Keep Tahoe Safe and Blue." And we can have a safer and more beautiful Tahoe by conducting the thinning more aggressively in the future.

Looking at a beautifully-managed forest you will see aged trees, healthy new growth, and an overall vigorous forest, which is much better than a charred, burnt and ecologically-damaged area for the next 20 years. This fire is certainly not the last one that we shall see, and the real questions is, are we going to wake up and take notice and make proper forest management a real priority. The Lake Tahoe region is one of the most beautiful and highly-visited areas in the nation, and we must be responsible stewards to protect this unique area from future forest fires.

Congressman John Doolittle represents California’s 4th District, which includes El Dorado County.

Bi-state panel to deal with Tahoe fire fuels

Angora Fire: Bi-state panel to draft Tahoe fire rules
The Sacramento Bee, Calif. (July 25, 2007)

Jul. 25--The governors of California and Nevada today will announce the creation of a commission that will propose new rules to avoid disasters like the Angora blaze, the largest wildfire to strike the region in modern times.

The Angora fire burned 254 homes and 3,100 acres in South Lake Tahoe last month. The committee plan emerges just as preliminary studies are suggesting that forest-thinning projects helped slow the burn, but may not have preserved homes -- especially those without fire breaks or fire-resistant materials.

The new California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission will be charged with examining forest and fire policy in the region and making recommendations by March 21. Its 23 members will be appointed equally by the governors, with one person chosen by the federal government.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to announce the new commission at a South Lake Tahoe ceremony today.

South Lake Tahoe Mayor Kathay Lovell is hopeful the commission will create real solutions, not another dust-catcher report.

"I think when you've got two governors side-by-side in this commitment, you are going to see some action," she said. "Certainly those of us at the local level are going to be watching and waiting to see action. People don't want to see the talk, they want to see the walk."

One of the biggest controversies facing the commission will be identifying strategies to protect rural property.

According to two preliminary studies on the Angora fire, years of effort to thin overgrown forest on public land around the affected neighborhoods helped reduce the fire's intensity. But many homes still burned because they were not protected from flying embers that rained down ahead of the main fire front.

"A fuel treatment does not stop a fire. It's meant to slow a fire so we can safely get people in to control it," said Hugh Safford, an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service and author of one report.

"Those homes burned because embers landed on shake roofs, or on decks, or a woodpile right next to the house," he said. "These homes caught on fire and they nuked the forest around them ... then spread embers to torch the home next to them."

Early findings suggest some neighborhoods could have been saved by a broader adoption of defensible space principles and fire-resistant construction methods.

"In no cases were there burning tree canopies igniting homes without other homes being part of that heat output," said Timothy Ingalsbee, executive director of Firefighters for Safety, Ethics and Ecology, a nonprofit representing fire professionals that released its own report last week.

Safford's work will be part of a larger, pending assessment of the fire.

By creating larger spaces between mature trees and removing small trees and underbrush, Safford said, fuel-reduction projects forced the fire to drop out of the tree canopy onto the ground as it approached homes near North Upper Truckee Road.

In a section of the Angora burn area that had not been thinned, he found 100 percent of tree crowns burned. In an adjoining area thinned in 2005, only 11 percent of the canopy burned.

Similarly, throughout the burn area, an estimated 71 percent of trees were killed by the fire. But in burned areas previously thinned, 21 percent of trees were killed.

"There's no question that you saved dozens, if not hundreds of homes, because of that," said Safford.

That contention, however, was disputed by Ingalsbee. He said it appears likely the initial run of the fire overwhelmed defensive measures created by forest-thinning projects as the fire approached Lake Tahoe Boulevard. Here, the fire was driven by 30-mph winds directly through a "stream environment zone," where logging was restricted to protect water quality.

The fire also encountered a 60-acre forest-thinning project near Mule Deer Circle. Though completed in 2004, the area was still filled with brush piles left behind from that work.

"It looks like one part of the fuels treatment area helped firefighters prevent the fire from spreading into the community," Ingalsbee said. "But along the rest of the fuels treatment area, it clearly did not."

According to Safford, some neighborhoods burned by the fire had a tree canopy almost twice as thick as the surrounding forest.

Barry Callenberger, a retired Forest Service fuels specialist who lives in Placerville, said this is a common problem throughout the Sierra Nevada.

"People have a tendency -- in the Tahoe basin in particular -- to think that it's not going to happen to them," Callenberger said.

A California law requires property owners to clear a defensible space zone 30 feet around rural homes, removing dead vegetation and other flammable materials. It also requires trees and shrubs to be thinned out to 100 feet, or to the property line.

Homeowners can be cited and fined for failing to comply. But enforcement is spotty at best, according to fire professionals, because there isn't enough money and personnel for inspections.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which now goes by Cal Fire, enforces the law in many parts of the state. But at Lake Tahoe, it leaves enforcement to local fire agencies, which press for voluntary compliance. This includes the Lake Valley Fire Protection District, which covers the area burned in the Angora Fire.

Bill Holmes, chief of Cal Fire's Amador-El Dorado Unit, could not recall a single citation issued by any Tahoe fire agency for failure to comply with the defensible-space law.

"The law is like any law: It's there to enforce if you have the people and resources to do it," said Holmes.

Scott Cecchi was one of the lucky ones in the Angora fire: His home on Boulder Mountain Drive survived the blaze, even though it had a wood-shingle roof. He had cleared a large defensible-space perimeter around his home by thinning trees and brush and building a rock patio in the backyard rather than a wood deck.

He knows flying embers landed on his roof, because he was up there positioning sprinklers before he evacuated.

Cecchi said he favors incentive programs, rather than fines, to improve fire safety. For instance, he wants to replace his shingle roof but can't afford it.

"Defensible space is not a guarantee. You're trying to increase your odds," he said. "That, combined with some luck, and we survived."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

$2 million for Angora burned forest

Date: July 24, 2007

Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER)

South Lake Tahoe CA. The funding request for Burned Area Emergency
Response (BAER) treatments for the Angora Fire area was approved at the Washington Office. With this approval, the USDA Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit has authority to obligate more than two million dollars to carry out a variety of emergency landscape treatments that will reduce hazards to life, property and resources, including reducing run off and
impacts to water quality. The Forest Service has been working in close cooperation with local, state and fellow federal agencies to develop the funding and treatment proposals for this important effort.

Some BAER treatments are already underway. Within weeks, a significant series of large landscape treatments will begin to stabilize the ash and post fire debris, allowing the burned area to resist erosion and run off effects through the coming winter season. BAER treatments are designed to reduce post fire seasonal run off impacts by 70% or more. Combined with
projects on non-federal lands and cooperative treatments, post fire
mitigation can be enhanced further.

Long term recovery efforts will take place after BAER treatments have been established, although planning and evaluations for long term recovery is already taking place.

No experimental treatments will be applied. BAER guidelines specify that only proven and effective techniques will be used. A large portion of the higher slope areas will undergo aerial hydromulching beginning in the next few weeks. Once commenced, the aerial hydromulching is expected to take two to three weeks, depending on the aircraft secured. This technique involves using aircraft to deliver a wet wood fiber mulch mix. This mix
contains no seeds. Included in the mix is an organic substance that acts to make the mixture sticky and resilient. This mix allows the soils and components to stabilize against late seasonal rains, snowfall and spring run off. Many areas of the burn are already seeing natural regeneration, with root sprouts appearing. Many areas where low to moderate fire activity occurred will see the upper unburned portions of trees shed
their needles, acting as a natural ground cover for lower to moderately burned soils.

The burned area of the Angora Fire was surveyed and determined to be of low risk of mud and debris flows.

A variety of hand treatments are being applied to National Forest Lands adjacent to the fire effected community, and along roads and drainages. Many BAER treatments have already commenced, and urban lot work within the fire affected community are underway.

| | |
| Land treatment | |
| 1. Aerial Hydromulch | $1,590,000.00|
| 2. Ground Hydromulch | $52,500.00|
| 3. Treat noxious weed| $16,000.00|
| populations | |
| 4. Noxious weed | $3,220.00|
| detection surveys | |
| 5. Hand Mulch | $82,500.00|
| hillslopes | |
| 6. Install check dams| $1,600.00|
| and waterbars | |
| 7. Seed urban lots | $9,375.00|
| (erosion control) | |
| 8. Install filter | $350.00|
| fence on urban lots | |
| 9. Install fence on | $30,000.00|
| urban lots (OHV control) | |
| Roads | |
| 1. Restore drainage | $3,000.00|
| function | |
| 2. Roadway hazard trees | $7,500.00|
| 3. Install drainage | $192,500.00|
| armor | |
| 4. Install aggregate | $56,250.00|
| base rock | |
| 5. BAER warning signs | $5,600.00|
| 6. Install geotech | $2,160.00|
| fabric | |
| Protection and Safety | |
| 1. Hazard Tree removal | $2,000.00|
| on urban lots | |
| 2. Hazard tree survey| $22,000.00|
| on urban lots | |
| Initial Assessment costs | $115,650.00|
| | |
| Total Initial Approval | $2,192,205.00|

BAER treatments are part of a three phase effort.

Fire Suppression Rehabilitation: During Mop-up of fire
(This phase is complete) A series of immediate post-fire actions are taken to repair damages and minimize environmental impacts resulting from fire suppression activities. Fire suppression rehabilitation is usually begun after the fire is contained and most of the work is accomplished by fire crews in the mop-up
stage of firefighting. This work rehabilitates the hand (5 miles) and dozer (7 miles) fire lines, roads, safety zones (2 acres), and portions of Urban lots used during fire suppression efforts.

BAER Burned Area Emergency Response: Within one-year
(Some projects and treatments are already underway)
Emergency stabilization is done to prevent catastrophic post-fire
damage to life, property, or critical natural and cultural resources. The BAER program prescribes and implements emergency treatments on National Forest System lands that are installed as soon as possible before the first major storm. Loss of vegetation associated with a fire exposes soil to erosion.
Increased water run-off may lead to flooding and increased ediment and debris flow. BAER treatments may include the installation of water or erosion control devices; temporary barriers to protect recovering areas; warning signs; and drainage features for increased flow. BAER work may also remove critical safety hazards and prevent the spread of noxious weeds. The Angora fire BAER assessment is a cooperative effort with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Washoe Tribe of CA/NV and local
CA State agencies.

Long-Term Recovery: Within three years or more (Planning and evaluation have already begun for some aspects)
Non-emergency actions are done after fire control to repair or improve fire-damaged lands that are unlikely to recover naturally and to repair or replace facilities damaged by the fire that are not critical to life safety. This phase may include vegetation treatments and re-establishment, watershed and stream restoration, monitoring fire effects, replacing burned
fences, excavating and interpreting cultural sites, treating
pre-existing noxious weed infestations, and installing interpretive signs.

Flash floods threaten fire area

Posted: 7/24/2007

Fires and floods are the concerns associated with a round of potentially strong thunderstorms expected to surge across the area Tuesday.

A flash flood watch was issued for a region stretching from Lake Tahoe to Reno, Carson City and other parts of western Nevada and eastern California.

Of particular concern are those areas scorched by recent wildfires, including one that destroyed more than 250 homes near South Lake Tahoe last month and another that threatened hundreds of other homes last week on the outskirts of Reno.

“If any heavy rain falls on them you’ll get a lot more runoff, potential debris flows and flash flooding,” said Jim Wallmann, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.

Monsoonal moisture, an unstable atmosphere and high temperatures are expected to combine to produce thunderstorms beginning noon today through the evening.
With the amount of moisture on tap, the thunderstorms could produce “a very heavy amount of rain,” beneath thunder cells, Wallmann said.

Heavy rain of up to an inch every half hour could fall in some locations, Wallmann said.

Officials will be on the watch for flash flooding problems at the scene of south Tahoe’s Angora Fire and at Reno’s Hawken Fire, which started July 16 at a Caughlin Ranch construction site.

“I don’t think it’s going to be too much of a problem but we’re definitely going to monitor the situation very closely,” said Marty Scheuerman, division chief with the Reno Fire Department. “We’ll be keeping an eye on it.”

The most potential for problems is along the Alum Creek drainage, which was “pretty well burned out” by the fire, Scheuerman said.

On Monday, experts from the U.S. Forest Service, Washoe County and Reno began the process of examining the 2,700-acre Hawken burn area to identify emergency rehabilitation efforts needed to avoid short-term erosion problems.

“They’re out on the ground looking at the situation — what burned, what didn’t. Where is there vegetation, where there is not,” said Gary Schiff, district ranger with the U.S. Forest Service.

If today’s expected thunderstorms don’t cause many problems in the way of flooding, they could still produce plenty of lightning that could start new fires, Scheuerman said.

Heavy rain could help extinguish lightning-sparked fires located directly beneath thunder cells but lightning strikes could hit the ground up to a mile away from those cells where rain doesn’t fall, Scheuerman said.

Strong and erratic winds caused by thunderstorms could cause any fires that do start to spread quickly across a kiln-dry landscape.

Locals-politicos exchange thoughts on Angora

Posted: 7/24/2007

Officials who promised to help victims of a major Tahoe Basin fire got polite applause at a Monday forum -- but the loudest cheering was for victims of the Angora Fire who questioned whether bureaucratic red tape hindered advance efforts to prevent such disasters.

California Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, joined by Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons and officials from various agencies and groups with a stake in protecting Tahoe, promised the fire victims that he'd work to curtail the bureaucracy. He said people are frustrated and "need some answers."

The fire that erupted nearly a month ago destroyed more than 250 homes on the California side of the Tahoe Basin, but Gibbons said the border between the two states joins rather than separates them. He pressed for "sound science" and the use of proven methods in thinning dense forests to reduce fire hazards.

Dozens of local residents spoke, including Chris Horton, who lost his home in the fire. Horton said the fire that caused more than $140 million in property damage was fueled in part by hundreds of piles of slash left on the ground by crews clearing out the woods in the past.

While some officials said the wood piles weren't a big factor in the wind-driven inferno that swept through a subdivision on Lake Tahoe's south shore, Horton said after the forum, "I just don't believe it."

"My point is, manage these programs so that you keep up with them," he said.

Lane Sykes, whose home was damaged, said the bistate Tahoe Regional Planning Agency that oversees the area, gave him an inspection report that prevented him from removing pine needles around his property. He said those pine needles contributed to the damage to his home.

The TRPA has emerged as a favorite target for those seeking to assign blame for the fire. Many Tahoe residents say the agency has overstepped its original mission by adopting strict policies that limit tree-cutting on private property.

Solange Schwalbe, whose home was destroyed in the blaze started by an illegal campfire, questioned why a fire lookout station on Angora Ridge, which overlooks the torched area, hadn't been manned for about 10 years.

Other speakers called for the use of heavy machinery to help remove trees in stream zones which can become pathways for spreading fires -- although officials insisted that such clearing methods have been utilized in some areas.

Heads of various agencies -- including the TRPA, Forest Service, Lahontan Water Quality Control Board -- were asked to improve their communication with locals. All the agencies promised to do so.

The officials also were urged not to continue seeking more studies because there are enough studies and reports that have shown what's needed -- major funding for forest cleanup and a streamlining of the permits needed to get that work done.

Healing workshop, Aug. 1

Does your stomach tie in knots when you hear sirens?

Are you struggling with loss, anger and sadness due to the Angora Fire?

Most everyone in our community has been affected by the fire at some level. If you would like to learn a simple and effective way to reduce these difficult emotions, please join us for the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Workshop.

Barton Memorial Hospital invites you to this FREE workshop to learn E.F.T. The workshop will be facilitated by long time locals psychologist, Catherine Aisner, PhD and body therapist, Rosemary Manning, MA.

Date: Wednesday, August 1
Time: 6:30pm-8:30pm
Location: Barton University, 1111 Emerald Bay Road (behind Nik-n-Willies Pizza)

For more information, please call Barton University at 543-5767 or Rosemary Manning at 541-6565.

Please join us for an evening of healing and moving forward for ourselves and our community.

Monday, July 23, 2007

USFS fuels reduction meetings


South Lake Tahoe CA. The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin
Management Unit (LTBMU) as lead agency, is hosting two public meetings for the Lake Tahoe Basin Multi-Jurisdictional Fuel Reduction and Wildfire Prevention Strategy 10 Year Plan. If you are interested in attending, the meetings will be held August 1st and 2nd. On August 1st the meeting will be at the NORTH TAHOE CONFERENCE CENTER, located at North Lake Blvd. Kings Beach,
CA. from 6-8 pm. On August 2nd the meeting will be at LAKE TAHOE COMMUNITY COLLEGE in the Aspen Room from 6-8 pm.

The purpose of the meetings is to present the planning effort and to solicit feedback on the draft plan prior to final public release. There will be a 30 minute presentation giving an overview of the plan and after the presentation an opportunity to take questions.

This strategic Comprehensive Fuels Plan for the Lake Tahoe Basin
incorporates approximately 208,800 acres. The plan was developed to comply with the White Pine County Conservation, Recreation, And
Development Act Of 2006; Public Law 109-432 (H.R.6111).

The plan facilitates the strategic decisions that must be made by land management, fire, and regulatory agencies to reduce the probability of a catastrophic fire in the Basin. It comprehensively combines all existing fuel treatment plans that have been developed within the basin and provides a communication framework for participating agencies to identify priority areas and to work collaboratively on accomplishing those priorities.
In addition, it builds upon current and past fuel reduction projects that have already occurred on nearly 13,000 acres and the efforts of community based fire departments and fire safe councils that are actively treating fuels around residences.

For additional information regarding these meetings please contact
Duncan Leao at 530-543-2660.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tahoe Mountain News -- Angora profile

This is the unedited version of what appeared in the July Tahoe Mountain News:

Editor’s note: The Tahoe Mountain News intends to follow John Mauriello through the months and potentially years it will take for him to recover from the Angora Fire. His story mirrors that of many in this community whom are just now beginning life after Angora. This is intended to give readers a glimpse into what our neighbors are going through.

By Kathryn Reed

“As I left I had my kitchen light on. The electricity went out. They cut it or a transformer blew. I went in and turned it off thinking why waste electricity when it comes back on.”
That was the last time John Mauriello saw his home at 1440 Mount Olympia Circle.
His is one of the 254 houses reduced to rubble in the Angora Fire. Like many in the area, he left with little and returned to nothing.
“I miss everything,” he said without hesitation more than two weeks after the June 24 firestorm erupted. “I picked up the sound board on my piano and started crying. I had wanted a grand piano all my life and bought one four years ago.”
The sound board has that classic shape of a grand piano. Covered in ash, it lay in ruin and unrecognizable to the uniformed witness. Next to it is a rather intact woodstove and chimney. Yellow hazard tape cordons off the unstable mason structure.
It’s the second week of July. Mauriello’s street is abuzz with telephone crews hooking up wires. Construction workers dig up an asphalt driveway around the bend. Fire trucks from the U.S. Forest Service and Lake Valley cruise by. Trucks are in front of existing houses to clean smoke from ducts and carpets. A neighbor down the street, whose house is standing, offers Mauriello friendship and whatever else he may need.
“Now I have to be dependent on others. That’s killing me,” Mauriello said. He’s tired of apologizing. He’s just plain tired.
“I miss my life, the life I had. It is totally turned upside down,” he said.
It’s like a full-time job to sort through the paperwork and plans for the future. Each day brings a new set of questions with answers he’s not ready or is unable to give. Tedious things like going to the DMV to get a copy of the registration for the burned out vehicle that was in glove compartment all take time.
While surveying the wreckage – something Mauriello does almost daily – his neighbor Alex Bebout came by with Steven Solomon of The Greenspan Co. out of Sacramento. Solomon is a public adjuster – someone who works on behalf of the consumer when it comes to negotiating settlements with insurance companies.
This is the first Mauriello has heard of such a service. He said he doesn’t feel like vultures are coming in for the kill despite the brother tandem of James and Michael Feller from Policyholders Adjusting Services lingering at the foot of the driveway. More public adjusters.
He takes all of their cards. He’s polite. He says it’s OK for them to call some other time.

Life before June 24

The 68-year-old Mauriello moved to Lake Tahoe with his four cats three years and one week before the fire hit.
His 1,720-square-foot two-story modified A-frame had four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-car garage. The bachelor had filled it with a mix of old and new things. As an accomplished chef his kitchen was full of All-Clad stainless steel cookware. A full pantry was at the ready to whip something up for guests.
It cost him $900 to move a dining room set his aunt had in New Jersey – more than it probably was worth. But it was a table he had eaten at as a kid – having grown up in Brooklyn.
It’s gone.
So is the flat screen TV that sat on the table and the two other televisions in the house.
“This is stuff I accumulated and had a place to put it all. And I bought new stuff because I knew this would be my last house,” the retiree said. “I was totally wrong on that part.”
A bit of sarcasm is used as a defense mechanism. His matter of fact speech is interrupted by tears welling up. Sometimes his voice cracks. His voice inflection and demeanor reflect the roller coaster of emotions he continues to ride.
But he’s staying in Tahoe. He’s going to rebuild. This is home.
Mauriello moved here from Studio City. The live theater he’d been doing for years no longer held his interest. His search for a place to retire led him to the Lake.
“It was a dream that came true that became a nightmare,” he said of finding his home and Lake Tahoe. Of the three houses he thought about buying all are gone.
“I used to say I can’t believe I have this out my window seeing the forest land. It was a paradise. Where the fire started (at Seneca Pond) was a two-hour hike every day after I finished my coffee.”

Time to evacuate

Mauriello was grabbing a bite to eat when he noticed something wasn’t right.
“The sunlight was like a reddish hue,” he said. At first he thought the emergency equipment he heard was for a car accident. Then he saw the fire, dialed 911 and was told crews were coming.
Something told him to put the pet carriers in the living room.
Thinking everything was under control, he finished lunch.
Then he went back outside. This time he instinctively knew to hose down his roof.
“Everything was happening so fast. A car with a red light was going house to house. I go out there and he says, ‘You’ve got to evacuate’,” Mauriello said. “I was still being nonchalant. Maybe it was denial. I said, ‘OK, five-10 minutes.’ He said, ‘No, you need to leave now.’”
Mauriello scrambled to round up the four cats. Three pictures – one of his aunt, mom, dad and brother; one of a dog he had when he was a kid; and one of his mom in Las Vegas before she died – are the keepsakes he has left.
The folder marked insurance is all the paperwork he has.
He had to make a decision about which vehicle to take – the rare BMW M3 or the Chevy Blazer.
“I said I’m going to be here this winter. Take the Blazer just in case,” he said.
The Beemer is a total loss. No longer rare – it looks like all the other heaps of vehicle carcasses littering the burn area.
Officials directed evacuees to North Upper Truckee Road instead of Lake Tahoe Boulevard. It took Mauriello 30 minutes to reach his friend’s place on Gardner Mountain.
“When I left, the lot across the street, the Forest Service land was burning. The Forest Service land on my side was starting to burn. As I was pulling out I saw trees going up in flames,” Mauriello said.
In less than an hour he was being evacuated again because his friend lives near South Tahoe High School. The next week and a half was spent at a friend’s in Tahoe Keys. Then it was back to the Gardner Mountain house for a spell.
His insurance company – The Hartford through AARP – found a place on Lodi Avenue that would take him and his pets. He saw the inside on July 10 and wasn’t sure he wanted to sign the dotted line.
Tahoe Mountain News Publisher Taylor Flynn showed Mauriello his vacant rental in town. Though Mauriello is now a tenant of Flynn’s, Mauriello was chosen as the fire victim to profile before this transaction occurred.

Life after the fire

Mauriello was at the Red Cross shelter at the rec center on June 25 getting “a shopping bag of someone else’s clothes.” That’s when a neighbor told him about his house and vehicle.
“When I found out, I knew my life was not over, but it will be changed forever,” he said. It wasn’t until June 29 that he and a friend laid eyes on what remains.
CNN interviewed him at the Red Cross center. He doesn’t know if he made the airwaves.
In passing days he acquired more clothing from the Baptist church and at other locations. At Noah’s Wish he was given supplies for the felines.
Red Cross gave him a $249 card to shop at Ross. The card wasn’t working. People in line were getting agitated, as was he.
“I was getting embarrassed. I was losing my dignity. It was so humiliating. A woman out of nowhere said put it on my card. She gave me a hug and I started crying like a baby,” Mauriello said of the experience, which he later learned was partly his doing by not using the correct numbers.
He liked that Lake Tahoe Community College was essentially a one-stop warehouse of information. He talked to folks about a federal loan, to the tax assessor’s office and others.
A drive to Wells Fargo Bank confirmed he still has to pay his mortgage despite no structure existing.
His mail is being delivered to the main post office until he decides if he wants a box or to get mail at his new residence.
Calling South Tahoe Refuse is on his to-do list to see if he must still pay that bill.
He was told he doesn’t have to pay South Tahoe Public Utility District for now.
He’s not sure what will happen with the two-year contract he had signed with Direct TV.
“I have to cancel some credit cards even though I know they are melted. I can’t do that until I get the monthly statement,” Mauriello said.
At a community meeting the first week of July he learned the state is doing cleanup work in the residential area. His insurance company will cover the $15,000 expense. The state picks up where insurance companies leave off.
Mauriello knows this is one document he’ll need to sign sooner rather than later. He says it’s possible to have everything cleaned up in a month.
“They are also going to test the soil for toxics,” he said. “Tree removal on my land is my responsibility. You have to make a lot of decisions when quite frankly you’re not psychologically able, but you do.”
Mauriello likes his insurance adjuster. Likes that he went to the meeting the county orchestrated. But he’s wary. As of press time he had not signed any documents regarding his Olympia Circle plot.
He has praise for the county. Feelings toward TRPA swing the other directions.
“Their silence is deafening,” Mauriello said. He intended to build a drainage basin for his driveway the week after the fire started so his best management practices would be complete. That, too, will be another process to start over.
He carries the key to his front door still.
“I’ll do something with it when I get into my new place,” Mauriello said.
On his old to-do list was to set up an appointment to have fire officials tell him how to make his yard fire safe. His neighbor across the street had done it. That yard is also a pile of ashes and debris.
The insurance adjuster set him up with a builder. A preliminary conversation centered on what could be recreated and what could be changed about the old dwelling. That will be an ongoing conversation.
“It’s more than the house. That’s just the beginning. What you go through after that …,” Mauriello’s voice trails off. All he can do is look is look at what was and hope for what will be.

Tahoe Mountain News -- Angora media

This is the unedited version of what appeared in the July Tahoe Mountain News:

No escaping media coverage of fire

By Kathryn Reed

It’s hard to know if the adage “there is no such thing as bad publicity” is applicable to a tourist town when the news is all about a wildfire.
Despite tourism officials trying to get out the word that the fire was not in the heart of town, burned out houses, scared forests and crying victims dominated the coverage.
The Angora Fire brought out national and international news hounds, as well as regional television and radio stations. Reuters, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and CNN – they were all reporting on the blaze.
Julie Regan, spokeswoman for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, did a segment on San Francisco’s KGO-radio. Neither she nor the ABC affiliate had a copy of the June 29 interview with talk show host Gene Burns.
El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Kingsbury is the focus of a two-part story for AOC-TV CCN. The first aired July 10, the second will be Aug. 14. The following is the dialog from Part I:
This is the Tahoe we all know and love. Pristine air, fragrant green pines, crystal clear lake. This is what it turned into on the last Sunday of June. The fire swept through residential neighborhoods in the forest, devouring 254 houses --- and vehicles --- and more than 31-hundred acres. Including El Dorado Presiding Judge Suzanne
Kingsbury's neighborhood. She heard the news from a friend who'd been on the fire lines.
"About 7 o'clock at night he called the house and said 'I've been by your Neighborhood, your house is still standing, you don't have any more neighbors."
But of course, Judge Kingsbury couldn't go home, so she spent Sunday night in her chambers.
"They turn off the heating and cooling system over the weekend so it was a little nippy in here, I had my pillows and my little blankie."
Yet during a surreal event, reality intruded.
"In fact I was still on call, still getting calls from the sheriff's department on the west end of our county with probable cause declarations they forgot to make. My town is burning to the ground and you're worried about whether some drunk is going to get out jail - aargh! It was very, very hard to focus on real life but real life marches on."
So that was what Sunday brought. Monday promised a whole new set of challenges with court business to take care of. Monday is preliminary hearing day.
"I've got a calendar, I've got prisoners, I have people showing up."
Fortunately, only 41 cases were scheduled. But law enforcement personnel were unavailable -- on the front lines of the fire zone, so no security, and no prisoner transport.
"Virtually every officer that was scheduled to testify was out in the field doing emergency duties. So I have to make a choice. Do we call these people off the disaster lines? Do we let people out of custody that perhaps present a danger to the community?"
So Judge Kingsbury's first order of business was to get the Chief Justice to issue an emergency order suspending time lines for five court days. Then they struggled to get through as much of the calendar as they could in the coming days. They closed down at 3 Monday.
"We contacted our court administration down in Placerville, got it posted on the website, contacted local media so they could let people know on the radio and in the newspaper what they should do if they had a court case. Then we started planning for succeeding calendars."
Another challenge: just a skeleton staff showed up for work. Many court personnel were evacuated from their homes, or were poised to run for their lives. Many couldn't get in. Angela Ann Phillips-Brown called in Monday, but came to work Tuesday.
Angela: "I need to be here, I need to be around people I can't just sit and watch the news, it doesn't help, it just hurts."
But then Tuesday afternoon, when the wind shifted, she and other court staff were told to evacuate.
Angela "It was just an amazing scene, I'd never seen anything like it. Scared to death. The smoke was so thick, it was so thick, and the embers that were falling were huge."
Fortunately, firefighters kept the flames away from town, and the court, but the effects of the fire on the community will be felt for a long time to come. And there are thoughts about lessons learned.
"Plan, plan, plan is all I can say. And I say even with that you're going to meet up with a lot of unexpected issues that you never contemplated in the planning process."
Next month on CCN, we'll tell you more about the personal elements of this story, as Judge Kingsbury takes us on a tour of her neighborhood.
That's Tuesday, August 14, our next CCN.
On June 25, Tahoe Daily Tribune reporter Susan Wood could be heard on CBS radio reliving her experience of being in the inferno the first day and running from flames with full turnout gear, goggles and notebook in hand.
The day the fire started Jordan Morgenstern, who operates www.webtvlaketahoe.com and has a law firm in South Lake Tahoe, was heard bragging at the Lake Tahoe Airport incident command center that he sold video coverage of the fire to NBC for a few hundred dollars.
His name was listed in the arrest reports at El Dorado County Jail the following day for felony spousal abuse. Morgenstern has since posted bail.
Two weeks after the blaze started, YouTube listed 89 entries for videos under the subject line “Angora Fire”, MySpace.com had 627 references to the fire and flickr.com had 557 photos posted.
Angora Fire is even listed in Wikipedia.

Tahoe Mountain News -- Angora access

This is the unedited version of what appeared in the July Tahoe Mountain News:

Angora Lakes open, most of burn area off-limits

By Kathryn Reed

No biking, hiking or fun of any kind is allowed in the Angora Fire area through at least Nov. 30.
“It’s an area that will have some hazards – primarily hazard trees,” explained Rex Norman, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. “In steep areas you have boulders and logs that will become dislodges that can roll around for a while.”
He said the danger will increase in the short term because damaged or injured trees will die and therefore become prone to toppling over.
Continual assessment will be done in the forest to determine which areas might be gradually opened up to hikers or others who like to play in the outdoors.
Norman did say that even though sections of the burn area are popular with locals, not a lot of tourists frequent the area.
Signs have been posted to keep out. More Forest Service personnel and law enforcement officers are patrolling the area to make sure people abide by the rules.
Angora Lakes Resort is open for business. Day trippers can get there via foot or bike. The road is open to guests renting one of the eight cabins as well as to folks who own summer cabins at the lower lake.
“We definitely had the slowest Fourth of July in history,” said Eric Hildinger, manager and one of the resort’s owners.
About 100 people were evacuated from the resort. They were back in business on July 2. Sierra Pacific Power had electricity running by July 1.
Hildinger said his family is grateful the fire crews, law enforcement and other personnel who helped keep the blaze from reaching their place.

Tahoe Mountain News -- Angora access

This is the unedited version of what appeared in the July Tahoe Mountain News:

Angora Lakes open, most of burn area off-limits

By Kathryn Reed

No biking, hiking or fun of any kind is allowed in the Angora Fire area through at least Nov. 30.
“It’s an area that will have some hazards – primarily hazard trees,” explained Rex Norman, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. “In steep areas you have boulders and logs that will become dislodges that can roll around for a while.”
He said the danger will increase in the short term because damaged or injured trees will die and therefore become prone to toppling over.
Continual assessment will be done in the forest to determine which areas might be gradually opened up to hikers or others who like to play in the outdoors.
Norman did say that even though sections of the burn area are popular with locals, not a lot of tourists frequent the area.
Signs have been posted to keep out. More Forest Service personnel and law enforcement officers are patrolling the area to make sure people abide by the rules.
Angora Lakes Resort is open for business. Day trippers can get there via foot or bike. The road is open to guests renting one of the eight cabins as well as to folks who own summer cabins at the lower lake.
“We definitely had the slowest Fourth of July in history,” said Eric Hildinger, manager and one of the resort’s owners.
About 100 people were evacuated from the resort. They were back in business on July 2. Sierra Pacific Power had electricity running by July 1.
Hildinger said his family is grateful the fire crews, law enforcement and other personnel who helped keep the blaze from reaching their place.

Tahoe Mountain News -- Angora water issues

This is the unedited version published in the July issue of the Tahoe Mountain News:

By Kathryn Reed

“If this fire occurred pre-1995, the outcome would have been dramatically different. We wouldn’t have had the water to stop it from going into Fallen Leaf Lake and god knows where,” Dennis Cocking, spokesman for South Tahoe Public Utility District, said a day after the Angora Fire was deemed fully contained.
Rick Hydrick, who used to be in charge of water operations for the PUD and is now chief of the San Juan Water District in Granite Bay, had the foresight in 1993 to ask the board of directors to beef up infrastructure.
It took millions of dollars and an increase in water rates to convert the older water systems the district had acquired in the 1970s and 1980s to be compatible with its network of pipes.
Extinguishing fires was not a consideration of water districts when the basin was being settled.
“California water laws said in those days you drilled a well and run a pipe to neighbors and cabins and you became a water company,” Cocking explained. “In post World War II they bought surplus pipe. It was 2-inch galvanized pipe. It was dirt cheap. There was really no eye toward fire suppression.”
STPUD started out in the 1950s strictly as a sewer district. When the Clean Water Act of 1971 passed, the small water companies realized they would not be able to comply with the standards. They sought out STPUD to buy them – and thus the agency became a water district as well.
Today the utility district has 14 active wells, 29 pressure zones, 14 tanks, numerous booster stations to pump water uphill and nearly as many pressure reducing valves to regulate water going downhill.
A few wells are deemed inactive because of a high level of arsenic. The college well isn’t used because of uranium issues. All could be used in fire situations – but didn’t need to be for the Angora Fire. For 14 hours the college well was used to fight the 2002 Gondola Fire.
Hydrick’s emphasis was on having enough water to fight a fire. That meant installing tanks to hold thousands of gallons of water that could be tapped instead continuously draining wells. Fire hydrants were installed in strategic locations.
The Forest Mountain tank in the Tahoe Mountain area and the booster station at the Lake Valley Fire Department station on Lake Tahoe Boulevard were part of the 1993 plan and are part of the network that allowed continuous water and sustained pressure to fight the Angora Fire.
The U.S. Forest Service installed a 450,000 gallon tank and hydrant across from the Fallen Leaf Campground last summer which was instrumental in fighting the Angora Fire.
“What people need to understand is air resources don’t put out a fire. Crews on the ground do,” said Kit Bailey, fire chief with the local Forest Service office. “If we didn’t follow-up on the ground, (the air support) wouldn’t be effective.”
He did say air support is vital and that without the ability to tap into Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake and Baron Lake, the fire would not have been contained in nine days.
Fire crews use water tenders to get deep into the forest. Tactical tenders can carry about 1,500 gallons of water, while support tenders have a 3,500-gallon capacity.
Crews associated with the multitude of agencies fighting the fire could be seen hooking up to hydrants throughout town.
“There were no pressure problems. STPUD did a great job,” said Jeff Michael, Lake Valley fire chief.
Even Rich Hawkins, the incident commander for the Angora Fire, praised the water district for directing water in a way that never left firefighters scrambling for the wet stuff.
“We can see what the water demand is in different zones,” Cocking explained of how his agency kept on top of the water needs. “You can move only so much water between 12 and 14 inch pipes,” adding that a bottleneck can occur as water is diverted.
Typical water for the district is about 5 million gallons a day. That consumption doubles in the summer, sometimes reaching 12 million gallons a day. Eighteen million gallons is full capacity. The district hit a record 17.26 million gallons on June 24, surpassing the 14.14 million gallons used to fight on the Gondola Fire on July 4, 2002, Cocking said.
The summer surge has everything to do with landscaping needs, he said.
“Customers were good about conserving water. The only thing we did try to crackdown on was on (June 26) when it flared up we had people on Ski Run running sprinklers on their roof,” Cocking said, though he admitted he understood why those closer to the fire soak roofs. “When you can see fire at the end of your street you need a gun and a badge to get someone to turn their sprinklers off.”
Even Chief Michael’s wife had a sprinkler going on their wood shingle roof on the house they are remodeling in the Tahoe Keys.
About 10 significant leaks erupted during the fire because of the expansion and contraction on the older parts of the system.
The biggest concern was when the fire jumped Highway 89 on June 26, a dozer hit a blow-off and broke the line.
“They were able to fix the leak in about a half hour while at the same time looking over their shoulder for fire,” Cocking said of the PUD crew. “The rest of the leaks were characterized as small to moderate – not gushers going up in the air.”
The district did six rounds of bacteriological tests at 11 sites during the fire to make sure the water was drinkable. With the pressure variations, Cocking said, the concern was for back siphoning.
“We were confident we had not sucked anything totally dry. There’s always sediments and rust that settle to the bottom of a tank,” Cocking said. “A few people said their water was red. That’s iron oxide.”
On July 5, the PUD board voted to waive water and sewer charges until people are ready to rebuild as well as waived all penalties for the second quarter for those whose payment arrived late.
The district is also prepared to work with people who want to set up RVs on their site while a permanent dwelling is constructed.
An option for burned out residents is to install a freeze-proof yard hydrant. STPUD can give a plumber the specifications for these.
Normal water operations can’t be turned on at the street because “it will bubble over their foundation,” Cocking said.
On June 25, STPUD had crews in the area shutting off water systems and continued to do so the rest of that week.
“Now we are looking at the sewer system. We have broken and exposed clean-outs for those homes,” Cocking said. “Starting (July 9) two local contractors will be capping those off. Our concern is if we get debris in those and when the rain starts it causes stoppages down the road.”
The other thing the district is doing to aid homeowners is using a GPS system to mark the water and sewer lines so it will speed up the rebuilding process. That should be finished in mid-August.

Tahoe Mountain News -- Angora facts

This are the unedited facts published in the July issue of the Tahoe Mountain News:

A dollar figure for the personal loss sustained when the 254 houses went up in flames will take same time to determine. Just the loss of structures is more than $160 million. Vehicles and contents of the homes will push the figure higher.
Here are some facts about the Angora Fire:
• Illegal campfire started the blaze about 150 yards from Seneca Pond in the North Upper Truckee Road area
• No suspects as of press time
• Culprits could have to pay for fire suppression costs
• 254 houses destroyed
• No commercial structures lost
• A few dozen out buildings, like garages and shed were destroyed
• 275 people spent the night at the city recreation center on June 26; another 100 were known to be in hotels
• 3,100 acres burned – 2,736 acres were National Forest Lands, another 216 acres accounted for the 148 Forest Service urban lots, California Tahoe Conservancy had 175 lots burn, the equivalent of 100 acres
• 4.7 square miles
• Started June 24, 2:10 p.m.
• Fully contained, July 2
• Fully controlled, expected by July 14
• Peak personnel: 2,174 people, 51 hand crews, 164 engines, 21 helicopters, 15 water tenders, 4 dozers
• Important numbers: Tip hotline for anyone who has information about the illegal campfire -- 800-468-4408; evacuation and road information, (530) 573-7966; evacuation center at city recreation center, (530) 543-6056; information about specific residences, (530) 541-4660, ext. 336
• Mountain News reporter Kathryn Reed has a blog at http://laketahoenews.blogspot.com/
• Map of the burned area: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/shownh.php3?img_id=14323
• Red Cross information: http://www.sacsierraredcross.org/page.aspx?id=804
• Wildlife rescue information: http://www.ltwc.org/
• Relief agency info available at Lake Tahoe Community College at least through July 12 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
• For relief info: www.edso.org
• South Lake Tahoe lost two SUVs – one fire, one police on the first day
• Worst injury was broken hand to a firefighter from a boulder
• Fallen Leaf Lake, Baron Lake and Lake Tahoe were used for bucket drops
• The juvenal detention facility was evacuated, with the youth transferred to Placerville for a few days
-- Compiled by Kathryn Reed

Tahoe Mountain News -- Angora overview

This is the unedited version of the overview story published in the July issue of the Tahoe Mountain News:

By Kathryn Reed

No amount of ink can do justice to coverage of one of the most far-reaching disasters to hit the South Shore of Lake Tahoe.
Everyone has a story to tell about the Angora Fire, whether they lost all worldly possessions, evacuated and returned to everything intact, to those working the fire lines, to those who couldn’t stop working even though their friends and colleagues were suffering, to those who only smelled the smoke.

Tahoe Mountain-North Upper Truckee

Sirens roared through South Lake Tahoe shortly after 2 p.m. June 24. The arsenal of fire suppression was not enough to spare the homes in the North Upper Truckee area where the 3,100-acre blaze originated.
Seneca Pond, a poplar place for locals to bike and hike, is where the remnants of an illegal campfire were found. Three other illegal campgrounds were found nearby, but outside the fire area, according to Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman.
Before the point of origin was discovered 254 homes had been reduced to ash. Several outbuildings like garages and sheds were consumed as well. No commercial structures vanished.
It was fully contained on July 2.
“I didn’t have time to get anything. Three-hundred foot flames were behind me on Mount Rainier and Upper Truckee,” said Grizzly Mountain resident Ron Eames, 45, who was getting a bite to eat at St. Theresa Catholic Church on June 25. He sat there not knowing if his home was spared. “There were spot fires all around the houses in that area. I was kinda scared and I don’t get scared easily.”
Lake Tahoe Community College computer programmer Jim Patterson was there the day after the fire started communing with friends who were as devastated he was. The 65-year-old’s home on Mount Rainier was gone.
“When I rebuild, my wife’s ashes are going to be part of the foundation,” Patterson said. He didn’t have time to retrieve her remains before he fled with his granddaughter.
Residents trickled in to the burn area throughout the week to see what was left. Anxiously they waited at checkpoints to go up with a police escort.
Coding is put on windshields of people being let in. See those white numbers around town – it’s someone displaced by the fire.
Relief, despair, anger, joy, shock. An emotional roller coaster is how many describe the aftermath.
Potholes riddle Boulder Mountain Drive. Chimneys are like eyesores. Charred, twisted metal is like something out of bad car accident – only worse. Black is everywhere.
“They said this was going to go for years. I heard this thing burned 100 acres an hour. That is romping,” said Cathy Gregory with CDF out of Parlin Fork near Mendocino. She and her crew were on Boulder Mountain June 29 to douse flare-ups. This fire was bitter sweet for her because much of the year she lives in South Lake Tahoe.
Swing sets rock in a gentle breeze on Cone Road. A bear-proof canister just needs garbage. But no residence exists to create rubbish. A barbecue looks cooked. A basketball hoop won’t get much action – no house, so no children to play.
Lake Valley Fire Station at Lake Tahoe Boulevard and Boulder Mountain awaits the next event.
Red fire retardant has stained streets and structures.
A trampoline on Clear View sits idle. A shed is melted next to a standing house. A fire hydrant no longer has a purpose. Whole lawns are green.
Don Bagley, a line worker foreman out of Reno with Sierra Pacific, is in the neighborhood replacing downed poles. In all, 120 were rendered useless.
“It’s slow work,” he said.
“For sale” signs litter the neighborhood. There’s nothing left to sell.
Tahoe Mountain is eerily quiet. No longer is it a beautiful drive. Everywhere it’s black. It’s hard to call it a forest. But homes on top were spared.
On Lake Tahoe Boulevard folks are returning for the first time on June 29.
“I got his flag,” Kitty Babb, 79, said through tears in reference to the most important item she fled with. The flag was given to her at her husband Bob’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery a few years ago.
Her grandson, Ben Babb, sifts through debris. Mugs she had gotten while her husband was stationed in Germany in 1952 survived, as did a few other items.
“I won’t rebuild,” Babb said. She’s going to Minden to be with her son.
Eric Arnoldi, 28, lifted a metal filing cabinet. Instead of pulling out papers, he pulled out ash.
His roommate Billy Elder, 34, uses a burned off rake from the horseshoe pit to comb through the pile of gunk.
“The insurance company is forcing me to rebuild,” Arnoldi said. He had wanted to cash out so he could own the lot outright. Instead he will take the insurance company’s money for temporary housing and have the firm pay for a new house.
This property on Lake Tahoe Boulevard is near Eagle Lane – where some houses are erect, others are disaster zones.
No logic seems to exist for what burned and what didn’t. Defensible space helped, but it was not enough in some cases.

What it was like on Gardner Mountain

A sense of calm took over the town on June 26. Even at the afternoon press briefing everyone said things were under control – or least going as expected. A quick drive across town to Gardner Mountain found the scene the opposite of the calm at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Gardner Mountain was like being in a wind tunnel.
While much of town was feeling relieved, nerves on Gardner Mountain were singed as each wisp of wind got more brisk. It brought not only ash descending like a soft dirty rain, but fear.
Just one-quarter of mile in from the houses on Gardner Street was a staging area with about a dozen fire vehicles. Hand crews were farther up. Chain saws could be heard taking down snags at 2:38 p.m.
Orange, black, red – the colors kept changing. Suddenly the flames were in the treetops racing downhill. It roared like a freight train. Wind swirled. The fire was a live and screaming. Smoke was suffocating. Trees fell. Hiking boots can only put out so many spot fires. Small critters scurry to find that no shelter exists.
Suddenly the fire crews start fleeing at 2:48 p.m. A news crew runs out. The Mountain News reporter squirms and the publisher keeps shooting photos.
A California Highway Patrol officer goes through the streets to issue a mandatory evacuation. Some stay, some go.
A water tender soaks the front of homes on Gardner Street backing the dense forest.
A South Tahoe Public Utility District duo soaks their pump facility on Gardner Street and Sand Harbor Road.
A fire truck is in front of every house. Firefighters clear wood next to structures, climb ladders to take off pine needles.
A wall of fire leaps behind the residences.
Firefighters save each and every structure.
The Douglas fir, ponderosa pine and incense cedar are blackened statues standing erect in a landscape one would be hard pressed to describe as a forest.
Before all heck broke lose up there, Tim Robinson with the Placer Hills Fire Department in Auburn, said, “The ironic thing is we sat here all day (June 25) and people brought us pizza and cookies and thanked us for saving their houses. Now it will come to fruition to see if we really can save their house.”
And they did – and the signs around town thank everyone for all the efforts during that bleak week.

Tahoe Island-Tahoe Keys told to leave

Traffic on Eloise waiting to turn onto Tahoe Keys to get of town is stationary when the call came to leave the area on June 26. Drivers are going the wrong way to get to the Keys area.
Mayor Kathay Lovell is one who has to go from policymaker to evacuee. She could see flames from her house in the Tahoe Keys.
It only became mandatory for a few houses near Lukins, West, Venice and 15th streets. Nonetheless, Tahoe Keys Boulevard was a traffic nightmare as people streamed out of town or to safer enclaves on the South Shore.
A day later Sheriff Jeff Neves said his department would want people to go into Nevada if another evacuation notice came. If it were necessary, streets would be open to one-way traffic to expedite the evacuation.
Neighbors had a beer and toasted to friendship as they hosed down roofs, fences, trees and overgrown California Tahoe Conservancy lots.
Frantic phone calls were made.
What to take? One piece of advice was the laundry basket because those are the clothes you always wear.

Insurance issues

California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (who is the former insurance chief) were in town June 27 touting the need for people to take photos or video of their entire house and belongings. This includes closets and drawers.
Then send the footage to a friend or relative out of the area so it doesn’t disintegrate in the next disaster.
They stressed the need to revisit insurance policies every year to make sure the value of the structure and its contents are reflected in the amount of coverage a person has. However, insurance companies have issued a temporary moratorium here for doing so.
Garamendi, while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in Europe, signed a proclamation declaring this area a state of emergency. It does not fit the criteria to be deemed a national disaster area.
Insurance companies were calling Tahoe homeowners the day of the fire offering assistance and leaving the policy number on voicemail.
Then they started showing up in mass at mobile centers. Many victims – renters and owners – had checks of either $5,000 or $10,000 within 24 hours to be used for immediate living expenses.
However, horror stories are being told of underinsured owners or renters with zero coverage.
The other concern is people looking to make a quick buck by scamming locals.
“Based on our experience there will be some bottom feeders, some snakes in the grass – people who are so-called adjusters,” said Hans Uthe, El Dorado County deputy district attorney.

Fire camp at Heavenly

Truckloads of supplies are necessary to feed and equip an army of firefighters. Pallets of shrink-wrapped fire hoses were lined up by thousands of bottles of water and Gatorade.
Heavenly Mountain Resort’s California Base Lodge parking lot was a bevy of activity for much of the week of June 25.
Television crews had big trucks in one corner. Media briefings were staged there.
Nearly every day at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. about 10 fire officials briefed those on the front lines for what to expect. It ranged from safety issues like loose soil and snags, to fire conditions, the weather, how to get paid, to what channel to tune to for radio communications.
One night the medical chief warned of gastro-intestinal issues spreading through camp. He told the gang to do a better job of washing their hands.
One area was set up for the men and women to get their clothes washed.
Food was served buffet style. Tables under canopies lined one area for eating.
One day comedian and radio personality Howie Nave brought Cinnabons to the lodge.
To the right of the lodge, up a flight of stairs a slew of tents were pitched. Some were in the play area, others under the First Ride chairlift.
Steve Ryberg, 59, of Weaverville left his boots and socks by a table littered with half consumed water bottles. He was trying to get some shut-eye before taking over as the night operations chief.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” Ryberg said sitting up in his one-person tent on June 26. “The unique thing this early in the season is it’s unusual to have fuels consumed. Here you have a lot of consumption. There’s so much dead fuel up here.”

Inmates on the line

Prison inmates were part of the crew that helped battle the Angora Fire. Some did mop-up, some were on the front line.
Before they arrive on scene 67 hours of fire training are completed.
“They have separate tents they sleep in and a different shower time. They feed with everyone else,” said Cheryl Johnson of CDF who was about to drive a truck full of inmates to the fire.
During the day Cal Fire is in charge of the inmates, while at night the California Department of Corrections has custody.

Acts of kindness
• Many hotels – from small ones like Value Inn to large casinos – opened their doors for free to victims. The Black Bear Inn canceled paying customers in order to house local refugees. Owner Jerry Birdwell even married a couple. Other hotels had firefighters as guests.
• Cardinale Way auto dealership loaned vehicles to people who lost theirs in the fire.
• Several businesses have raised or collected money for victims – most fundraisers were the week of July 4. Many companies are setting up collections for the employees who’ve been displaced.
• Harrahs Lake Tahoe spokesman John Packer said musicians from across the country were calling wanting to help. He said some sort of benefit concert would definitely be staged in the near future. He said 207 of his employees were fire evacuees.
• Sixteen LTUSD employees lost their homes. STEA is collecting funds to help. Send to Angora Fire Fund, PO Box 13206, SLT, CA 96151 or contact Mike Patterson at coachpatterson@sbcglobal.net or (530) 545-1347.
• Angora Fire Relief Fund’s for Kirkwood employees displaced by the fire may be mailed to the Kirkwood Community Association, PO Box 158, Kirkwood, CA 95646. For more information about Kirkwood relief efforts, call (209) 258-6000 or go to www.kirkwood.com.
• The South Lake Tahoe Safeway is doubling each donation to the Angora Fire Fund – so $25 becomes $50. As of press time, no cutoff date had been set.
• Sierra-at-Tahoe is offering storage space for donated items because local entities are running out of room from the overflow of generosity.
• Heavenly Mountain Resort pledged $75,000 to relief efforts early on.
• The Locals for Locals Angora Fire Fund was set up by the chamber of commerce. Go to US Bank or mail donations to Locals for Locals Angora Fire Fund, PO Box 17640, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96151. The fund has nothing to do with regular chamber finances. Community leaders will disperse money in an attempt to fill needs not met by disaster relief agencies. Businesses wanting to give a percentage of their sales should contact Jana Ney Walker at (530) 544-6119 to participate in the Tahoe Businesses Who Care Program.
• For information about opening your home or finding one to stay in, call (775) 588-6616.
• Howie Nave said callers early on were asking for fans to suck out the smoke from houses.
• Signs are scattered throughout town thanking the crews which spared the area from what could have been a much more severe firestorm.
• At one community meeting a standing ovation and round of applause were given to the firefighters; at the third and final one on June 29 the same was done for everyone connected to the efforts to suppress the fire.
• Red Cross has U-haul trailers set up throughout the area with shovels, rakes and cases of bottled water for victims to take.
• Bert’s restaurant on June 29 had boxes of face masks in the lobby for the taking.
• Salvation Army’s disaster truck was helping folks at Lake Tahoe Boulevard and Sawmill Road.
• St. Theresa’s fed thousands.
• People brought up truckloads of supplies and donations from Tahoe City and the Bay Area.
• Wal-Mart came with a truck of supplies.
• Raley’s made sandwiches for fire crews. Raley’s in the Carson Valley was asking customers to donate to help feed firefighters.
• Noah’s Wish helped take care of domestic animals as did county Animal Control.
• Restaurants keep giving.
• Costco in the valley has an 18-inch deep container set up that people are dropping greenbacks into.
Cleary other acts of kindness and generosity have occurred and will continue to. It’s a testament to the compassion and resiliency of the South Shore.
Many people are jumpy with each siren that wails. Everyone is affected by this fire in some way. But the overwhelming sentiment is we are all in this together for the long haul.