Rain Adds Obstacle for Emerald Fire Crews

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE -- Smoke puffs up through a once lush forest. There are skeletons of trees left where the Emerald Fire rolled through.

The fire broke out at 1:30 Friday morning, off Highway 89 near Emerald Bay. Wind gusts, as high as 70 miles an hour, spread the flames forcing the mandatory evacuation of 500 structures in the fire's path.

But as the rain began to fall the flames began to disappear. CAL FIRE said the fire is now out. Crews have been mopping up and marking hazardous trees, but from a distance.

"We've pulled all the engine crews and fire crews off the line," said Bat. Chief Doug Ferro.

The rain is a welcome sight for those in the fire's path, but CAL FIRE said along with wet and difficult terrain the blackened, weak trees mixed with gusty winds is a dangerous combination.

"We have concerns that there are several trees especially with the winds that are up rooting and falling," said Ferro.

That's why fire fighters are only patrolling the perimeter of the Emerald Fire, "Basically staged there out of the weather they've been up all night we want to get them rested and dry."

The safety of firefighters is a top priority. While evacuation centers focus on the safety of residents forced to flee from their homes in the middle of the night.

"Just a comfort zone we have snacks and water and coffee," said Tami Martin with Red Cross.

According to Cal Trans Highway 89 remains close from Fallen Leaf Lake road to Vikingsholm overnight. They will reassess Saturday.