Every year about this time in the Sierras, fire becomes a major concern for the community. This summer we have been experiencing an awful lot of moisture for our area. In my five years of living in South Lake Tahoe, I have never witnessed so much precipitation in the month of July.
Unfortunately, this has created a false sense of safety among the great folks here in Tahoe.
These storms can actually be more of a nightmare than a dream for the people living up here in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains. One would think that we are receiving ample moisture, therefore fire danger should be relatively low. Reluctantly, it allows for multiple lightning strikes to rock the Tahoe Basin and leave us vulnerable for environmental hardships. We also have a lot of dry sage and brush which is indigenous to the region and is extremely flammable.
For example, just last week, a lightning strike sparked a small fire right outside the Lake Tahoe Community College and a second strike hit Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort. Luckily, our local South Lake Tahoe Fire Department, Lake Valley Fire Protection District and the U.S. Forest Service were extremely alert and quick to respond to the emergency. They were able to quench the flames and save us from dealing with a huge disaster.
Sometimes we don’t realize how close we come to devastation, and that there are people out there behind the scenes who are constantly saving the day. These folks don’t ask for a pat on the back or any celebration, they just go to work everyday, serve the people of Tahoe, and are the true heroes of our community.
On the other hand, a lot of us winter enthusiasts only view the crazy weather as a sign for great things to come this upcoming ski and snowboarding season in Tahoe. We have all heard that this is a “La Niña” year and the precipitation we are experiencing this summer only supports that notion. Hopefully, this will allow us an early opening for Heavenly Mountain and brings us an unlimited amount of snow-pack this season.
Still the threat of fire looms while we wait for our ski and snowboard rentals to come out of the garage and onto the hill. Just remember, the next time you bump into your local firefighters, don’t forget to tell them, “Thanks for protecting our community and keeping us safe at home.”