Photos by Ty O’Neil
Update, July 17, 9:30 a.m.
The Tamarack fire has grown to more than 21,000 acres and is continuing to blanket areas of the Carson Valley and beyond with smoke and ash fall. Officials are advising those with compromised respiratory systems to stay indoors.
The U.S. Forest Service said that it is still 0% contained. It currently has 120 personnel working on the fire, and said “firefighters will continue to actively suppress the fire where they can safely do so utilizing a variety of tactics, natural barriers and targets of opportunity.”
Evacuations in the area expanded to include Sierra Pines, Upper and Lower Manzanita, Crystal Springs, Alpine Village, Diamond Valley Road and Hung-a-lel-ti. The evacuation center has also been moved to the Douglas County Senior Center near Lampe Park in Gardnerville.
Wildfire Today notes that the area in which this fire is moving hasn’t had a recent history of fires—since as far back as the 1980s—and is being fueled by dry conditions, high temperatures and low humidity.
Some people have railed against the USFS on social media for their early response to the fire. The USFS’s Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest office on July 10 posted an update on the fire, which was caused by lightning strike on July 4, noting that it was being monitored and remained small with “no threat to the public, infrastructure or resource values” at the time. They said the approach was not unresponsive, but also took into account safety concerns due to the terrain.
While the USFS response to all human-caused fires is suppression, the agency notes, “In certain locations, when conditions are right, the agency response to natural wildfire may be to manage it to reduce fuels and restore ecosystems that benefit from fire.”
The Tamarack fire burning six miles south of Markleeville, California, grew to 6,600 acres overnight according to the Carson Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service. The fire is burning northward toward Highway 89 and moving toward the Carson River.
Officials say they have no containment on the blaze which is moving aggressively. They’ve listed the cause of the fire as lightning on July 4.
Markleeville, Grover Hot Springs and its campground area, Shay Creek, Markleevillage, Carson River Resort, Poor Boy Road area, Wolf Creek Campground and East Fork Resort are all under evacuation orders. The Alpine County Sheriff said an evacuation center has been set up at Early Learning Center at 100 Foothill Road near Markleeville.
Highways 89 and 4 are closed in the area of the fire and closures may affect some portions of Highway 88 as well.
Local fire agencies have sent structure fire protection engines to work in the area surrounding Markleeville. The Alpine County Sheriff’s Office reports three structures have been lost, but no injuries have been reported. Some parts of the area have lost power as well.
The USFS said it has called in aviation resources and a local hotshot crew to work on containment.
Smoke and light ash fall may be prevalent in the Carson Valley and surrounding areas.
The Death Ride cycling event scheduled for July 17 has been canceled.
For more information on the fire visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7674/.
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with 20 years’ experience working in communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. In her free time, she is a volunteer backpacking guide along the Tahoe Rim Trail, an avid home cook and baker, cyclist, wife and stepmom.