Smoke from California fires casts pall over Nevada |

Smoke from California fires casts pall over Nevada

Smoke obscures Muller Lane on Wednesday.
Kurt Hildebrand

For the second day in a row, unhealthy air closed schools in Douglas County on Wednesday.

Superintendent Keith Lewis added the Lake Tahoe schools to the list making the first day those schools have been closed due to smoke. Should today be another smoke day, students requiring meals may pick them up at their school 9:30-11:30 a.m.

In anticipation of another day of bad air, both the Wine Walk and the chamber’s mini-showcase scheduled for Thursday in Gardnerville have been canceled.

The air quality index in Ranchos Aspen Park was 249 at 7 a.m. Wednesday, while a sensor in Johnson Lane was at 246, both in the very unhealthy range. Air quality at Stateline was in the unhealthy range with a reading of 187.

Visibility at Minden-Tahoe Airport was at 2 miles at 7 a.m. Wednesday, slightly better than the 1.25-mile visibility recorded on Tuesday morning.

Forest fires across California continue to pump smoke into Western Nevada, burning 1.5 million acres as of Wednesday morning, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center situation report.

A fire weather watch has been issued 11 a.m. today to 8 p.m. Friday for most of the central Sierra and Western Nevada.

Southwest winds of 15-20 mph, gusting to 40 mph, are expected to start today, and shift west on Friday.

Sierra ridges could see gusts of up to 70-90 mph overnight. Humidity is expected to drop into single digits during the afternoon with poor recovery overnight.

“The combination of gusty winds and low humidity can cause fire to rapidly grow in size and intensity before first responders can contain them,” forecasters said.

National Forest lands in the Carson and Bridgeport Ranger Districts reopened on Tuesday morning after a temporary emergency closure that took effect on Thursday.

“We understand how important access to our National Forest is,” said Humboldt-Toiyabe Forest Supervisor Bill Dunkelberger. “However, a very serious fire threat still exists and we are asking that the public be extra cautious when recreating not to spark another wildfire.”

On Tuesday morning, Forest spokeswoman Withanee Milligan confirmed that the California portions of the Humboldt-Toiyabe are open to the public.

“We cannot stress enough, however, that the public be extra careful not to spark another wildfire,” she said.

The Humboldt-Toiyabe remains in Stage 2 Fire Restrictions, meaning no campfires are allowed on the forest whatsoever. Also, chainsaws are not allowed to be used on the Forest after 1 p.m. daily.

The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit in California will remain closed until at least Sept. 21, officials announced Tuesday morning.

The Forest Service said that due to unprecedented and historic fire conditions throughout the state, the closure has been extended on most of California’s national forests, including the Lake Tahoe Basin.