Many hazards exist including fire-weakened trees, burned stump holes and missing trail signs
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif., March 31, 2022 – The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) reminds recreationists to use caution when recreating in the 2021 Caldor Fire area. Residents and visitors should be aware of their surroundings and use common sense when recreating in the burn area. Burned landscapes present numerous safety hazards for recreationists that either did not exist prior to the fire or have been worsened by the effects of the fire.
“Risks to those choosing to recreate in the Caldor Fire burn area will continue to evolve over the next several years,” said Public Services Staff Officer, Daniel Cressy. “Always practice responsible recreation and be aware of your surroundings including wind and other weather conditions, which can weaken fire-damaged trees.”
No area closures are in currently place on the LTBMU. All trailheads and trails in the burned area are open, however multiple hazards may exist. Hikers, mountain bikers and others venturing into the burn area should be prepared to navigate without visible trails or trail signs and be sure to bring along a map, GPS app or device. Practice good stewardship by staying on trails because without live plant roots to anchor the soil, burned soil can easily be worn away.
In addition, please keep the following in mind:
Flash Floods/Debris Flows: Fast-moving, highly destructive flash floods and debris flows triggered by intense rainfall are one of the most dangerous post-fire hazards. The risk of floods and debris flows after a wildfire increases due to vegetation loss and soil exposure. Always avoid recreating in post-fire areas during rain events. If caught unaware, move to high ground. Never attempt to drive or hike through an area that has been flooded or if debris flows have occurred. These types of events hide dips in roads or trails and other obstacles. Worse still, there may not be a road or trail at all. Flooding and debris flows can wash away entire roads or trail surfaces and a significant amount of ground underneath.
Damaged or Dead Trees: After a wildfire, many trees are weakened from burning around the base of the trunk. These trees can fall over, blow down, or drop limbs without warning. Shallow-rooted trees can also fall. Therefore, always be extremely alert when recreating around burned trees, especially after rain events or during high winds. Never picnic, camp, or park a vehicle close to dead trees. Look up while on trails and if the wind kicks up, head to a clearing out of reach of any potential falling trees.
Burned Stump Holes/Root Chambers: Burned stumps may create obvious large holes, but these holes may be bigger than they appear. In many cases, the fire may have traveled through root chambers and consumed the woody root material leaving hollow spaces where solid wood used to be. Overtime, these root chambers will collapse. A person’s body, mountain bike or vehicle weight may cause these chambers to collapse, potentially opening a hole. Large trees have particularly big root chambers that can be very deep. Be especially wary after rain events as the moisture may travel through the root chambers and make collapse easier.
Eric Guevin, Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District, 775-815-0972
LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nev.– As the community celebrates 100 percent containment of the Caldor Fire, firefighters are sharing lessons learned from the fight to protect neighborhoods in Christmas Valley, Meyers, and South Lake Tahoe in a new bilingual video and a special issue of Tahoe In Depth newspaper: Lessons from the Caldor Fire | Lecciones del fuego Caldor | Tahoe In Depth
Firefighters from Lake Valley Fire Protection District, City of South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue and other local, state and federal firefighting agencies noted that in the months and weeks prior to the fire, residents took important steps that helped save their homes: moving firewood away from homes, cleaning up pine needles, and preparing for a potential evacuation.
“It was inspiring to see that residents did what they could to help us help them. It really made a difference,” says Kim George, a fire captain with City of South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue.
In the new video, Kim George and Martin Goldberg, an engineer with Lake Valley Fire Protection District, share three key steps that residents can accomplish to help firefighters increase the odds of protecting homes at Lake Tahoe:
Maintain Defensible Space:Clear the first 0-5 feet of your home (Ember Resistant Zone) of wood mulch, pine needles, twigs, and other flammable vegetation. Keep the next 5-30 feetLean, Clean, and Green by removing dead and dying vegetation, spacing trees and shrubs, and keeping plants well-irrigated. Maintain a Reduced Fuel Zone of 30-100 + feet by thinning dense stands of trees and shrubs and removing dead plant material, low-hanging tree branches, and other ladder fuels.
Harden Your Home Against Embers:Reduce your home’s vulnerability to wildfire embers by clearing pine needles and debris from gutters, roofs, and decks. Place one-eighth inch metal mesh screens over vents, and install ignition-resistant roofing, non-combustible siding, and enclosed eaves.
Stay Prepared and Stay Informed:Be prepared for an evacuation by registering for your and neighboring counties’ emergency alert systems, packing an evacuation Go-Bag in advance, and making an evacuation plan with your family, friends, and neighbors.
In addition to the video, Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team partners contributed to a special Caldor Fire issue of the environmental newspaper, Tahoe In Depth, to capture the events of the fire and to describe the critical role of forest fuel reduction—including forest thinning and the use of prescribed fire—and wildfire preparedness now and into the future.
“Prolonged droughts and extreme wildfires have become a fact of life in the Sierra Nevada. We just lived through it with the Caldor Fire, and we can improve our odds of withstanding the next wildfire,” says Kim George.
The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team (TFFT) consists of representatives of Tahoe Basin fire agencies, CAL FIRE, Nevada Division of Forestry and related state agencies, University of California and Nevada Cooperative Extensions, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the USDA Forest Service, conservation districts from both states, the California Tahoe Conservancy and the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. Our Mission is to protect lives, property and the environment within the Lake Tahoe Basin from wildfire by implementing prioritized fuels reduction projects and engaging the public in becoming a Fire Adapted Community.
There are three phases of recovery following wildfires on federal lands:
– Fire Suppression Repair
– Emergency Stabilization-Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER)
– Long-Term Recovery and Restoration
o Fire Suppression Repair is a series of immediate post-fire actions taken to repair damages and minimize potential soil erosion and impacts resulting from fire suppression activities and usually begins before the fire is contained, and before the demobilization of an Incident Management Team. This work repairs the hand and dozer fire lines, roads, trails, staging areas, safety zones, and drop points used during fire suppression efforts.
o Emergency Stabilization-Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) is a rapid assessment of burned watersheds by a BAER team to identify imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property, and critical natural or cultural resources on National Forest System lands and take immediate actions to implement emergency stabilization measures before the first post-fire damaging events. Fires result in loss of vegetation, exposure of soil to erosion, and increased water runoff that may lead to flooding, increased sediment, debris flows, and damage to critical natural and cultural resources. BAER actions such as: mulching, seeding, installation of erosion and water run-off control structures, temporary barriers to protect recovering areas, and installation of warning signs may be implemented. BAER work may also replace safety related facilities; remove safety hazards; prevent permanent loss of habitat for threatened and endangered species; prevent the spread of noxious weeds, and protect critical cultural resources.
o Long-Term Recovery and Restoration utilizes non-emergency actions to 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 and safety. This phase may include restoring burned habitat, reforestation, other planting or seeding, monitoring fire effects, replacing burned fences, interpreting cultural sites, treating noxious weed infestations, and installing interpretive signs.
SPECIAL NOTE: Everyone near and downstream from the burned areas should remain alert and stay updated on weather conditions that may result in heavy rains over the burn scars. Flash flooding may occur quickly during heavy rain events-be prepared to take action. Current weather and emergency notifications can be found at the National Weather Service website: www.weather.gov/sto/.
The Lake Valley Fire Protection District is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®)—the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years—to promote this year’s Fire Prevention WeekTM campaign, “Learn the Sounds of Fire SafetyTM.” This year’s campaign, October 3-9th, works to educate everyone about simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe.
“What do the sounds mean? Is there a beep or a chirp coming out of your smoke or carbon monoxide
alarm? Knowing the difference can save you, your home, and your family,” said Lorraine Carli, vice-president of outreach and advocacy at NFPA.
The Lake Valley Fire Protection District encourages all residents to embrace the 2021 Fire Prevention Week theme.
It’s important to learn the different sounds of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. When an alarm makes noise—a beeping sound or a chirping sound—you must take action! Make sure everyone in the home understands the sounds of the alarms and knows how to respond. To learn the sounds of your specific smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, check the manufacturer’s instructions that came in the box, or search the brand and model online.
The Lake Valley Fire Protection District wants to share safety tips to help you “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety”
A continuous set of three loud beeps—beep, beep, beep—means smoke or fire. Get out, call 9-1-1, and
A single chirp every 30 or 60 seconds means the battery is low and must be changed.
All smoke alarms must be replaced after 10 years.
Chirping that continues after the battery has been replaced means the alarm is at the end of its life and
the unit must be replaced.
Make sure your smoke and CO alarms meet the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.
The Lake Valley Fire Protection District is posting a series of tips on our Instagram (@lakevalleyfire) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/LakeValleyFire) sites in support of this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety.”
To find out more about Fire Prevention Week, please contact the Lake Valley Fire Protection District’s Public Information Officer Martin Goldberg at (530) 577-3737 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more general information about Fire Prevention Week and fire prevention in general, visit www.fpw.org.
Enhanced fire restrictions began June 15, 2021, and will remain in effect through November or until rescinded. Wood and charcoal fires and other fire-related activities are prohibited in the Lake Valley Fire Protection District. Increased fire danger due to severe drought conditions and warm weather is a big concern this summer. Enhanced fire restrictions will help reduce the possibility of human-caused fires.
By residing in the Wildland Urban Interface (the zone where natural environments intersect human development), we take on the extra responsibility of living with wildfire.
However, living with wildfire at Lake Tahoe isn’t just an individual journey—it’s a team effort between ourselves, our neighbors, and federal, state, and local agencies. It is a partnership, and we all play a role.
2019 defensible space community workday in the Golden Bear neighborhood, South Lake Tahoe.
Become a Tahoe Network Neighborhood Leader
Tahoe Network neighborhood leaders receive training and access to educational resources and event assistance. With support from the Tahoe Network and your local fire district, you can inspire and empower your community to get prepared.
If you’re interested in becoming a neighborhood leader, contact the Tahoe Network Fire Adapted Communities at email@example.com or 530-543-1501 ext.114.
Educate Your Neighborhood
Introduce yourself to your neighbors and/or widely advertise the threat of wildfire during neighborhood walks.
Distribute our free resources about defensible space, home hardening, and evacuation planning.
Compile neighborhood email addresses and contact information. Send out wildfire preparedness information, emergency updates, or newsletters.
Create a neighborhood communication thread, group, or forum on Facebook or Nextdoor focused on wildfire preparedness.
Discuss your neighbors’ evacuation plan. Identify if any neighbors will need extra assistance.
Engage Your Neighborhood
Plan a wildfire preparedness block party and invite your local fire district.
Plan a defensible space community workday.
Organize a tour of homes with exceptional defensible space and home hardening.
Apply for Firewise USA Recognition
Firewise USA is a national program that recognizes communities who are actively preparing for wildfire. You can join the eight other Firewise USA communities at Lake Tahoe and apply for your neighborhood to be recognized.
Form a committee that’s comprised of residents and other applicable wildfire stakeholders.
Obtain a written wildfire community risk assessment form your local fire district.
Develop an action plan with a prioritized list of risk reduction projects/investments for our neighborhood.
Host a defensible space community work day and an outreach event to educate neighbors on fire preparedness.