Tamarack Fire containment grows to 82%, acreage remains the same

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 82% contained, according to the Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team.

Dry and windy conditions are expected Monday, so fire crews are warning residents and visitors in the area to be cautious and do their part to prevent new fires.

The rest of the uncontained fire is in Division A along the southeast, an area confined by natural barriers and limited fuels to burn, fire crews reported.

Officials said Rocky Mountain Type 1 will transition command of the fire to Sierra Front Type 3 Team Monday night.

After visiting the site of the fire last 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.”

Last 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.

Nearly 600 firefighters are battling the Alpine County blaze, which has destroyed at least 23 buildings, including more than a dozen in Nevada.

Most mandatory evacuation orders were lifted last week in Alpine and Douglas counties. 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.

On July 22, the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District tweeted a video of crews escaping an unpaved road surrounded by a fast-moving spot fire. 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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