After two weeks of an all out attack on the King Fire, a change in weather has helped to quell the advance of this burn. As of this morning, according to the information from the Unified Command, the fire stands at 97,009 acres. It is also, as of noon today, 78 percent contained.
The change in the weather, along with the massive efforts of all the fire personnel, on the ground and in the air, helped bring about greater containment. The rain storms dumped over an inch of rain in the Pollock Pines area, and up into the north area of the fire. There was a dusting of snow at lake level (6,224 ft) and more on the mountains. Mt. Tallac was nicely decorated with snow this morning.
According to the Unified Command PIO, “With the diminished fire activity and the projected good relative humidity recovery overnight, the fire is not expected to move. Smoldering of heavy pockets of fuel are anticipated.”
The result of this is that the evacuation center in Pollock Pines was closed as of 8 p.m. last night, around 1,000 fire personnel are being released to their home bases, and the smoke from the smoldering parts of the fire are expected to pool in the canyons and ravines, at least for now.
For the Tahoe area, up into Truckee, and in the Auburn area, this is a major improvement from several days of socked in smoke filled skies. The smoke led to the cancellation of the IronMan Lake Tahoe, and the Squaw Valley Oktoberfest.
Businesses in those areas reported a drop in visitors due to the smoke. The annual Apple Hill crowds were similarly diminished. With the weather pattern easing the fire, and less smoke as a result, these areas should be covered with mostly blue skies.
While the fire is by no means out, things are looking promising. There are still some closures in the Tahoe National Forest according to the info from the Unified Command: “Tahoe National Forest has issued a road closure which includes the Foresthill Rd., Forest Service Rd. 22, and the Western States and Tevis Cup trails. For detailed information please visit: http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/tahoe/alerts-‐notices/?aid=25282”.
While the main news was on the King Fire, and the impact it had, and has, on outdoor recreation, businesses, and health, another fire was reported in Lake Tahoe.
That fire was named the Cascade Fire as it started above Cascade Lake in South Lake Tahoe. It started on September 24, and was reported to be human-caused. Initially, the fire had spread to 30 acres. The response to this blaze was immediate, as hand crews and air crews mounted a vigorous attack on it.
As of this morning, the fire had been reduced to 20 acres, down from the peak of about 35 acres, and is reported to be 20 percent contained. This fire is not related to the King Fire.
Several trailheads and camping areas had been closed due to the fire. The Forest Service has, as of today, reopened the Eagle Falls, Tallac, Glen Alpine and Stanford Camp trailheads, according to Cheva Gabor, who is the public info officer for the Lake Tahoe Management Unit. California State Parks also opened the Inspiration Point lookout above Emerald Bay, and the parking lot access to Vikingsholm.
Still closed are the Bayview trailhead and campground and the Taylor Creek Sno-Park. They will remain closed as fire personnel actively fight the fire.
All of that is good news. A bit of snow, a lot of rain, and just plain gut-busting hard work by fire fighters means that more of the forest is safe, and outdoor rec types will be able to head out sooner rather than later.