Camping at Snowflower: August 15 - 24, 2000

We arrived to tent camp at Snowflower (Yuba Gap on I80, about 20-miles South of Tahoe) on August15, 2000.  We were the only campers in the remote and heavily wooded Oak tent camping area. Normally, we take day trips but didn't the next day, Wednesday.  

At about 2PM, I glanced across site 24 to see bright orange flames about 8 feet high and 5 feet across.  I shouted "fire" but no one other than Betty was around. She tried to suppress the flames but I could see it was beyond our control.  So I sped in our 4Runner to the Raccoon area but no one was there either.  I continued about a mile to the guard gate for help. I told the gal to call the CDF and send the preserve's fire truck immediately, and then returned to the fire.

The employees were unable to get the fire truck to pump water, didn't have the right fittings for the hose, and ended up with a 4" hose that couldn't be dragged to reach the head of the fire which was now 100 feet up the hill.  The CDF began arriving at about 3:30pm.  It required numerous firefighters, many helicopter water drops, a plane fire retardant drop, and a bulldozer to finally extinguish the fire by 6pm.  It had burned 4 to 5 acres.  It was fortunate that I was there to give an early alarm, otherwise the fire would have raced up the hillside and burned out the RVs in the Sierra, Cedar, and Tahoe areas.

Each of these photos can enlarged by clicking on them.
Use your browser's return button to get back to this page.

camp.jpg (55267 bytes) If you look in the background, you'll see the fire trucks.  That's how close to our camp the fire was.  Fortunately, it was moving away from us.
origin.jpg (46873 bytes) The fire started between the BBQ and the huge log behind it.  Note that the ashes and the combustible organic matter (called duff) around the BBQ wasn't cleared away.  Carelessness causes fires.
hoses.jpg (36024 bytes) I tried to help the campground personnel drag the 4" hose to the front of the fire but it was past us and we didn't have enough people to drag the hose.  (It wasn't long enough anyway.)
bigger.jpg (40929 bytes) Without numerous firefighters, many helicopter water drops, a plane fire retardant drop, and a bulldozer the fire couldn't be extinguished.
chopper.jpg (27876 bytes) Look closely and you'll see the flames in the trees.  These water drops didn't put the flames out, just slowed the fire down.  The bulldozer cut a path around the fire and pushed adjacent trees over to keep it from continuing up the hillside.  Ground crews used chainsaws, shovels, and fire hoses to keep the fire inside the path.
foresthill.jpg (32629 bytes) If the fire isn't contained then you have this.  The Plumas fire, visible from the ridge near our camp, started the day before and continued to burn until we left 8-day later. That cloud drifting to the right is smoke. 

Copyright Protege Marketing 1998 - Revised 05 Aug 2005