Angora Fire Aftermath

Today I drove through part of the Angora Fire burn area on my way home from hiking.  I’ve seen part of it every day from my office window, but I have to admit that seeing it up close from the road shows just how devastating it really was.  I only went over Tahoe Mountain Road from Fallen Leaf Lake Road – I did not pass through the residential streets simply because I have a deep loathing for lookie-loos – and that, frankly, was enough.

The ground has been treated with what looks to be wood chips (an erosion prevention measure?), obscuring any trails that were there before.  The Gun trail turnoff was no longer visible from the road, and seeing that made me realize it will be a long time before we can ride that again.


Ground Control, We Are Contained

100% contained as of this morning.  Nice to see that they’re ahead of schedule on that one.  Uber-fire restrictions are currently in effect, including a ban on outdoor smoking.  Try telling that to the beefy guy who sat next to us in the patio of the Tudor last night, using the grass as his personal ashtray.

And while life goes on, I’ve been surprised this morning by the news of one swim friend who lost her house in the blaze, and another acquaintance whose house was barely spared.  The need to help these friends will not go away anytime soon, as the whole rebuilding process, both physical and psychological, will take some time.

Innocence Lost

N decided to drive up here yesterday, mere hours after arriving back from Portugal.  While the fire is now 85% contained, his presence here meant that we could do some much needed tree de-limbing, since I’m not comfortable wielding our neighbor’s tree saw.  We’re not the only ones thinking that way, as a veritable symphony of chainsaws provided the background music for our work today.

While we were cutting down branches…

The dog was working hard in her own way.

This fire has forever changed the way I look at trees and forest fuel.  On my run today I was able to easily see the burned areas, and everywhere I looked I could see dead and downed trees, forest fuels just ripe for a fire.  So in as much as we work on our house and property, I fully realize that there is a lot more work to be done both by the city and the county.   In talking to my neighbor, a woman who has spent her entire life here, she admitted to panic attacks, something that she’d never had before.   I’ve been having them too, and the only positive thing about them is that it may help me lose a few pounds, assuming it doesn’t turn into an ulcer.

Normalcy Returning

Winds are stronger this morning than yesterday, and while I can see some smoke over by Angora Ridge, it’s reassuring to see a return to normalcy here.  After dropping off my tree removal permit application at TRPA (the fire was strong encouragement to get some much needed defensible space projects completed), I stopped by the Rude Brothers, a local bagel bakery, and was pleasantly surprised to see a full parking lot and lots of bustle inside.

And while many people are up in arms about the decision to go forward with the 4th of July fireworks on the lake, I’m of the mindset that tourism is what sustains this town, and July is the biggest month, so why not try and minimize losses by encouraging visitors to come and spend money here?

Fire Drama Diminishing

Happily the winds didn’t pick up to the scary wind advisory levels forecast today.  Thus there is very little to report on the fire itself, as evidenced by the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s current reporting on such topics as bears with burned paws and the anger (misdirected or not) at the TRPA.  The latter has been blamed for the fire, essentially for making it difficult for homeowners to remove trees from their property (to create defensible space) and recommending that flammable materials (bark chips and pine needles) be used to cover bare dirt in order to prevent erosion and sediment from ruining the clarity of Lake Tahoe.  While the joke may be on them right now (what with all the ash and burned debris that is no doubt sullying our pristine waters), I’m not sure if it’s fair to mark them as a scapegoat just yet.

I went so far as to unpack one bag (the one with my iPod and running shoes), but until I hear the magic words – 100% contained and controlled – I’ll leave the truck as is.  After all, I was a Girl Scout for 12 years, so that whole ‘Be Prepared’ motto is a hard one to shake.

Deceptive Calm?

I’m back home now, and by the looks of my drive over Kingsbury Grade, it’s hard to fathom that there’s an uncontained forest fire burning here.  The sky is clear, winds are light, and there’s none of the anxiety I felt earlier this week.  Heck, I saw people running and mountain biking, a sure sign that the air quality has improved.

That said, while the fire is holding at 55% containment, the areas around Lukins Way and 15th streets (across Highway 89) are still on mandatory evacuation, which I’m guessing is more preventative than anything.  Winds tend to pick up in the afternoon, so it will be the next 6-8 hours that are the most important.

I’m feeling way calmer now, and am cautiously pragmatic that things won’t explode again.

More to come.

The Drama of Tragedy

I decided to check out some mainstream media websites today to see how they are covering the Angora fire.  While our local papers seem to be doing a fairly good job of reporting the events without unnecessary drama, Fox News (what a surprise) is all breathlessness and exclamation points about the potential doomsday scenario about to unfold here.  To make it worse, they are relying on older news; today’s short online video, with the typical steely jawed reporter looking serious, focused more on yesterday’s slopover fire than on anything that’s happened today.  Which is perhaps because there’s no real drama to speak of today, as the predicted high winds mercifully didn’t show up.

It’s no wonder that someone contacted me in a panic about this fire after having seen Fox News.  From their reporting, it’s all really big and expensive homes that are at risk, and the whole place is about to explode into flame.  And that makes me angry, because far too many people in this country rely on this channel for its ‘news’.