Tahoe National Forest officials are urging locals and visitors to ensure their campfires are completely extinguished after 4 acres burned down between Boca and Prosser reservoirs on March 24 due to an abandoned campfire. This is the fifth fire this year caused by an abandoned campfire.
“For this time of year it is big and unusual,” said Debby Broback, spokesperson for the Truckee Ranger District and the Tahoe National Forest. “Fuels out in the forest are as dry as they would be in the summer, and it is March.”
Broback said employees at the agricultural station reported the fire mid-afternoon on Monday. By Tuesday, the fire was under control, but firefighters will continue to patrol the area until they are certain it is completely out. The fire was in Woodchopper Springs, which is an area not frequented by campers, Broback said. The fire was built on the forest floor without any clearing or fire ring.
“They built a fire without any thought,” Broback said.
The lack of snow on the ground is opening up backcountry areas that would not normally be reachable this time of year, Broback noted. And because of the dry season, more fires are likely to occur this summer. Broback urges campers to be aware of where and how they build fires, and to make sure the fires are completely extinguished before leaving the area. If a campfire causes a wildfire, those responsible are liable for the cost of suppression, which ranges from a couple thousand dollars to millions of dollars, she said. Abandoned campfires are the number one cause of manmade fires.
“This is not going to be a normal year,” Broback said. “It has the potential to be a very active fire season.”