Tahoe crews take on the Rim Fire

| September 3, 2013 | 0 Comments

Photo Courtesy Greg Smith

Written by Laney Olson

The 235,841 acre Rim Fire, which is now 75 percent contained, is requiring the help of almost 5,000 firefighters. Some are Tahoe locals.

Both North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District (NLTFPD) in Incline Village and North Tahoe Fire Protection District (NTFPD) in Tahoe City have been asked by Stanislaus National Forest personnel to send crews to help fight the blaze burning through Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest.

A hand crew of 20 was sent on Monday Aug 26, says Tia Rancourt of the NLTFPD. The crew will spend 14 days helping to build a fire protection line before heading home. NTFPD will then assess the fire to decide if more crews need to be sent.

“It is important that we have appropriate personnel to sustain our district before we can send people out,” Rancourt says.

NTFPD sent a strike team out on August 20 when the fire was still at its early stages. The strike team, which also included engines from North Tahoe Fire Department, Northstar Fire Department, Fallen Leaf Lake Fire Department, City of South Lake Tahoe Fire Department and Lake Valley Fire Department was fighting sections of the fire located two hours from their camp. “We were driving four hours and working 12 hour shifts, they were long days,” says strike team leader Captain Greg Smith.

“The first day there we were mopping out around the camp when a fire popped out of the canyon and set the camp on fire,” said Smith. “It was the first time in my career I’ve ever had to defend my own camp.”

Crews put out the fire using the burning out method aka fighting fire with fire. Several outbuildings burned down but the camp remained in tack with no injuries suffered.

After spending 13 days fighting the Rim Fire, Smith describes the fire as, “an interesting fire, a complex fire and an unpredictable fire.”

“Everybody did a tremendous job,” said Smith of his strike team. “They are the best at what they do. This was a tough assignment and everybody passed with flying colors. We got out without any injuries.”

Photo Courtesy Greg Smith

The team will be coming home today. No further requests have been sent to NLTFPD for more crews.

Fires in Tahoe National Forest, Butte County and Bodie, California drew crews from the Truckee Fire Department. All of the those crews returned home safely but with so many crews out, they were unable to assist with the Rim Fire, says Bob Bena, Truckee Fire Department fire marshal.

Residents of Lake Tahoe and Truckee have been urged to stay inside as smoke from the Rim Fire provides unhealthy air conditions.

There is a Red Cross evacuation shelter set up at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora. If you would like to volunteer or donate to the Red Cross you can call 1-800-REDCROSS or go to www.redcross.org.

Category: Outdoors, Summer

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