Tamarack Fire containment grows to 65%

Wildfire Watch

MARKLEEVILLE, Calif. (AP/KTXL) — Containment continues to grow as crews battle a wildfire that’s burning on both sides of the California-Nevada border.

The Tamarack Fire burning south of Lake Tahoe has scorched 68,696 acres of timber and head-high chaparral in national forest land, and remains 65% contained, according to the Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team.

Fire crews added about 6 miles of new containment on the east side of the fire, between Leviathan Peak and Leviathan Mine Road Thursday, fire officials said. Storms in the area also brought light and steady rain over the fire.

A flash flood watch is in effect from noon to 7 p.m. Friday.

Fire crews have begun removing fire equipment from areas where it’s no longer needed.

After visiting the site of the fire Wednesday, both Gov. Gavin Newsom and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said the Biden administration needs to step up the country’s firefighting and preventing resources.

“It’s not an indictment, it’s not finger-pointing, it’s not novel, it’s not new to the Biden administration, or even the previous administration,” Gov. Newsom said. “We just have historic framework that has to be thrown out.”

Sisolak said the U.S. Forest Service is understaffed and under-resourced and has been for years, which may have contributed to the fire’s condition. 

“This one didn’t start as that big of a situation and, unfortunately, it was prioritized down because they thought it wasn’t going to be this bad,” he said. “If we would’ve had enough resources, we could’ve knocked this one out early and prevented a lot of this damage.”

Earlier in the week, the area where the Tamarack Fire is burning saw downpours, aiding in the firefight.

“A change in the weather brought much-needed moisture onto the fire area yesterday. A group of afternoon thundershowers dropped heavy rain onto some sections of the fire,” Rocky Mountain Type 1 reported Tuesday morning.

More than 800 firefighters are battling the Alpine County blaze, which has destroyed at least 23 buildings, including more than a dozen in Nevada.

Sunday, authorities in Alpine and Douglas counties ended evacuations in 15 communities, allowing nearly 2,000 residents to return home, the Incident Management Team reported.

By Wednesday, mandatory evacuations were also lifted for people living in Wolf Creek and the State Route 89, State Route 4 corridor/Silver City areas.

Burnside Lake is no longer under evacuation, Rocky Mountain Type 1 reported Friday.

Although most evacuations in the area have been lifted, fire crews are still asking residents to limit travel to essential travel.

Both evacuation centers have been closed. Douglas County said families in need of assistance should contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-REDCROSS, or view their list of resources.

Highways 395, 88, 89 and 4 are back open. All highway closures are being reported by Caltrans.

The Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District tweeted a video of crews escaping an unpaved road surrounded by a fast-moving spot fire last Wednesday. They also tweeted a video of a firewhirl.

The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team has produced an interactive map that allows the public to track the Tamarack Fire’s location.

The fire sparked on July 4 and was one of nearly two dozen blazes started by lightning strikes.

For online resources and the latest information on evacuation orders, click or tap here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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