Fall burning began Saturday in the East Fork Fire Protection District and will last through Dec. 19.
“The district has identified the need to open a fall burn season to assist homeowners with the clean-up of natural vegetative debris and the maintenance of defensible and survivable space,” East Fork Fire Marshal Amy Ray said on Friday.
While burning is conducted on favorable days year around on Carson Valley’s big agricultural properties, periods of backyard burning are limited to two months in fall and spring while it’s damp enough to be safe.
Burners are required to download a burn authorization sheet from the district’s web site at www.eastforkfire.org, so they know the regulations for burning.
Prior to setting a match to a burn pile, residents are required to call the burn line at 775-783-6497 to find out if it’s safe to burn.
The line is a recording that’s updated every day and doesn’t allow callers to leave a message. Burning can start as early as 7 a.m. and continue until 3 p.m. Fires must be out by 3:30 p.m.
“The district will be monitoring all burning activities, including site investigations as required to ensure individuals are conducing seasonal open burning per the Douglas County regulations.”
Those regulations are also available at any of the East Fork fire stations and at the district offices.
Property owners won’t be the only ones burning this fall, with the Tahoe Fire & Fuels Team planning to start burning next month as weather conditions allow.
Forest managers use fire to reduce the amount of fuel available in the woods to try and slow down wildfires.
“During the Caldor Fire, we observed firsthand that prescribed fire and fuels reduction efforts help firefighters protect homes and neighborhoods,” said Acting Forest Supervisor, Gwen Sanchez. “We will continue to use these effective tools to reduce the amount dense vegetation that can become fuel for destructive wildland fires.”
During a presentation on Living with Fire, Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District Fuels Chief Keegan Schafer said burning is an alternative to hauling away debris.
He said the district conducts smaller burns that make it harder for vegetation to grow back.
Schafer said the district mostly engages in “boutique burns” that generally focuses on burning piles. Timing is everything when it comes to conducting burns.
“In the Tahoe Basin it can be very dry or very wet,” he said. “That means it’s hard to find those windows of opportunity to burn.”
Besides the moisture, firefighters also have to consider the effect of smoke on what they refer to as “receptors,” meaning neighbors and visitors.
He said they do around 200 acres of piles a year before winter snow puts them out of business.