Sierra Fire Officials Say Heed Warnings Amid Dry, Windy Conditions

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE -- Late June 2007, the Angora Fire destroyed more than 250 homes and 3,100 acres of South Lake Tahoe forest.

Many homes have been rebuilt but the scar of that fire still appears to be fresh -- and so are the memories.

Kyle Smaine grew up in the South Lake Tahoe area and will never forget the sight of so many familiar homes disappearing.

"Friends, teachers, all sorts of people in the community that I was pretty close with that lost houses or portions of their house," Smaine recalled.

Officials began talking about the Angora Fire again because Cal Fire and the National Weather Service say the recent weather conditions around Lake Tahoe have been the same as they were when the Angora Fire took off.

"We have high winds. We have extremely low humidities," said Brice Bennett with Cal Fire.

FOX40 met up with Bennett at a Placerville station where trucks that just came back from the Sliger Fire were receiving maintenance to make sure they were ready for another disaster.

Better yet, Bennett is urging everyone in the Sierra to avoid any activity that could spark a disaster.

"Ninety-five percent of all wildfires are started by people," Bennett said. "So we say 95 percent of all fires are preventable."

A campfire was the cause of the Angora Fire.

"Campfires in improved campgrounds and camp rings are being restricted in some places," Bennett said. "So you want to check with your camp host. And any sort of warming or cooking fire outside of that area in the wilderness is completely prohibited."

As a direct response to the Red Flag fire danger weather conditions, Cal Fire put extra resources in place this week in the Sierra. In South Lake Tahoe, those include an additional wildland fire engine, a water tender and an extra hand crew.

As somebody who witnessed that disaster, Smaine hopes people take the warnings seriously.

"Something as simple as a cigarette butt or a campfire that you don't think is gonna do any harm," he said. "The sparks can fly and especially with the wind going, a Red Flag Warning, you don't want any accidents, you know."