Comments (7)
  1. Jo Ann Costanza says - Posted: June 6, 2012

    It was my husband’s birthday, so we’ll not likely forget the date, much less the day.

    Our family believes in celebrating one another, and had gathered together for a day of food, fun and laughter. At the time, we lived off Ski Run Blvd, miles away from the fire. But when we went outside, we noticed small, slightly glowing embers, floating through the pines, settling on the deck. We became aware of the disharmony or shrilling sirens, seeming to come from every direction. Sadly, locals are always aware of what that “big fire” can do to our basin. We turned on the television and what we saw and heard left the room in silent gasps. Although it wasn’t the first time our Alpine community had been threatened, this one looked horrifying. Suddenly, our celebration was replaced with what resembled pacing a hospital waiting room, hoping the “news” won’t be tragic. Finally, our daughter, Lorie said “Dad, I’m sorry; I can’t stand it anymore. I have to go to the Parks and Rec. Department and see if I can help.” We told her to keep in touch; to let us know what sorts of things they needed.

    It seemed like years, but I suppose it was days, before the fire was contained. There was no other topic of discussion in our little town. Everyone knew someone who was on mandatory or suggested evacuation. Friends from hundreds of miles away sent money to the Angora Fire Fund. One day, our son stopped at a locals burger spot. A half dozen firemen, some still wearing ashes on their beaten faces, lined up behind him for a quick break and much needed substance. Steve pulled out some money and said “Don’t let them pay….” and then, he shook each of their hands, saying “Thank you”. When things finally calmed down enough that Tahoe could breathe once more, we stood on the corner, sound-makers, amateurish signs held high that said “Firemen; We love you!!”

    It’s not the kind of experience you want to remember…and yet, it’s the kind you can never forget.

  2. Diana Hamilton says - Posted: June 6, 2012

    Desperately trying to find current/accurate information! The local radio stations having NOTHING. The best coverage was from Sacramento. The local TV station had some interesting filming but it was a loop, so was quickly out of date.

  3. Dumbluck says - Posted: June 6, 2012

    We had just gotten a puppy the day before. Drove over to Carson City the next day to show my wife’s father. While sitting on his balcony, we couldn’t help but notice all the smoke in the air but it was coming from the east, from the direction of Fallon. We felt very sorry for that town. But, as we drove back, it became apparent that the smoke had just wrapped around the mountain, from the west. Checking the radio didn’t help–first report we heard was that Tahoe was on fire “from Camp Richardson to Stateline.” We had to come in from Highway 88, Spooner being closed. Very smoky, very scary. We weren’t sure if our house off of Black Bart was still there. We never were in danger, as it turned out, though cinders did fall on our in-laws’ place off of Johnson Blvd, two miles past us.

  4. KnowBears says - Posted: June 6, 2012

    I remember extremes of emotion — fear and helplessness as I watched the Sacramento news stations to see which areas were being consumed by flames — shock and sorrow over the extent of the devastation — pride and gratitude for the firefighters who contained the fire.

    I recall the firefighters felt defeated because so many homes were lost, but it seemed to me like an impossible situation, with the wind, the terrain, and the lack of resources. I think it’s miraculous there was no loss of human life. They don’t like to be called heroes, but heroes they are! I still choke up when I think about it.

    To this day, I have to restrain myself to keep from hugging every firefighter I see.

  5. Local Yokle says - Posted: June 9, 2012

    For us it started early. Around 9 or 10 am we saw smoke billowing over our house in Gardener Mountain. Our neighbor had just returned from climbing rocks in the twin peaks area and told us it was bad. Shortly after we moved a motorcycle trailer form our back yard and started loading provisions for our then two year old child… play pen, toys, diapers. We then collected our insurance papers and clothes and toiletries for ourselves. We also video taped the contents of our house.

    My parents live in town so we took our dog, child and trailer there and returned to clear anything outside we could that might catch fire. Probably the fastest rake job our yard has ever seen. We spent the rest of the day and most of the evening taking turns hosing and sprinkling down what we could while trying to keep our water usage to minimal levels. By this time ash was readily falling and exposed skin could feel a tinge of heat every now and then. It was not a restful night.

    At 4 AM Sunday we approached South Tahoe High School. Not realizing that back fires had been set at South Tahoe High School we were frightened by the sight of the forest ablaze. Whole trees were exploding with fire reaching forty feet or more above their tops. Seeing dozens of fire trucks at the base of trees and the fire dwarfing both suggested we were going to lose our home in the very near future.

    Monday we left the hill and visited family in the Carson Valley. We left as much to get our young son away from the smoke as to give ourselves a break from it all. About mid afternoon my father called from our house and told us the fire had jumped the lines and that our house would be the next fire line if it entered Gardner Mountain. I remember looking to my wife and saying that I wanted a garage when we rebuilt.

    We returned to Tahoe and discovered we were now under a mandatory evacuation. We could get to the Y but no closer to our house. At one point we jumped the lines and briefly visit our house to look for a last few items and returned to the safety of my parent’s house. As luck turned out, the wind turned and we were spared with most of Gardner Mountain spared the worst of it all.

    I had never imagined a fire coming from that direction and always thought the local camp grounds in Fallen Leaf to be our main threat. We owe our home and neighborhood to the many thousands of fire fighters and others who helped turn the tide.

    It was a frightening experience and our hearts go out to those that lost everything.

    -Local Yokle

  6. Local Yokle says - Posted: June 10, 2012

    Correction to the previous..

    It was 4 AM Monday morning that we went to the High School.

    -Local Yokle

  7. Michael Lee says - Posted: June 11, 2012

    Watching fire from house on gardner mtn, putting out hoses to me and neighbors houses and waiting for a week. After 9 seasons of wild land fire crew i found standing ground on your place is so much different than getting off the bus to fight fires. Still brings sadness when i think of peoples lives that were changed and the scarred forest that was left. Kudos to firefighters. When we evacuated the second time i knew we were fine, we had three engines in front of house and when backfire blew up they put out several spot fires right behind many homes. Thanks again
    “Looky loos” were a pain in the neck, but there is always a knucklehead or two.