Saturday, July 07, 2007

Lake Tahoe

The fire has uncovered many things, as report indicates.

Investigative Report: Danger builds in Tahoe tinderbox
Many homes near lake constructed since 1990 are in flammable forest.
By Phillip Reese and Mary Lynne Vellinga - Bee Staff Writers
Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, July 7, 2007

As the fire danger in the forest around Lake Tahoe grew more acute, the number of houses packed into suburban-style neighborhoods around the lake ballooned as well -- increasing the possibility that a blaze would have catastrophic consequences.

About 80 percent of the roughly 2,000 single- and multi-family homes constructed around Lake Tahoe since 1990 stand in areas state fire officials say carry a high hazard for fueling fire, according to a Bee analysis of fire maps and building permits.

The risks associated with this building boom were not a secret. After a spell of drought, beetle infestation and tree disease, it had become clear to planners, fire officials and many local residents that conditions were ripe for wildfire.

"It was strongly evident by the early 1990s that we were building up a large backlog of dead trees," said Bob Harris, the forest supervisor at Tahoe from 1988 to 1997.

Yet when a new home is proposed around Lake Tahoe, planners look at whether it is too tall, will create too much noise, whether it will contribute to soil erosion. They preach tree trimming and buffer zones, checking a box when a developer satisfies fire code regulations. But they never prohibit a new home simply because it stands in the midst of a tinderbox.