Tamarack Fire burns 25K acres with no containment; new evacuations ordered

Wildfire Watch

The Latest – Monday, July 19

9:38 p.m.

Due to the increased danger from the Tamarack Fire, the California Highway Patrol in South Lake Tahoe has closed Highway 88 at the Nevada/California state line to Highway 89 at Pickett’s Junction.

Travelers are asked to find alternate routes.

Original story below.

ALPINE COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — A growing wildfire south of Lake Tahoe jumped a highway, prompting more evacuation orders, the closure of the Pacific Crest Trail and the cancellation of an extreme bike ride through the Sierra Nevada.

The Tamarack Fire, which was sparked by lightning on July 4, has burned roughly 25,000 acres, with no containment by Monday morning.

The fire has destroyed at least 10 structures, authorities said.

The blaze is threatening Markleeville, a small town close to the California-Nevada state line. U.S. Forest Service officials said Monday, fire crews will keep mopping up hot spots around the town to protect it from the flames.

About 500 fire personnel were battling the flames Sunday, “focusing on preserving life and property with point protection of structures and putting in containment lines where possible,” the Forest Service said.

By 3:15 p.m. Monday, what appeared to be a pyrocumulus cloud had formed over the fire. The giant “fire clouds” hold ash and particles from the fire below.

Evacuations are still in place for hundreds of people in Markleeville, Grover Hot Springs and the campground area, Shay Creek, Marklee Village, Alpine Village, Woodfords, East Fork Resort and the community of Hung A Lel Ti.

By Monday afternoon, California Highway Patrol officials said evacuations were underway for Mesa Vista, Blue Lakes Road and the Charity Valley area off Highway 88.

An evacuation shelter has been set up at the Douglas County Community and Senior Center on 1329 Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville, Nevada.

The CHP said there are closures at the intersection of Highway 88 and Highway 89 in Woodfords, Diamond Valley Road and Highway 88, and Highway 89 at the intersection of Highway 4.

There is a 60% chance of rain for the area Monday, but “even if the area receives rain, the fire could remain active,” Forest Service officials wrote. That’s because of the mix of dry fuels spurring the fire on.

Meteorologists predicted critically dangerous fire weather with lightning possible through at least Monday in both California and southern Oregon.

“With the very dry fuels, any thunderstorm has the potential to ignite new fire starts,” the National Weather Service in Sacramento, California, said on Twitter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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