Dangerous smoke cancels South Lake Tahoe air show; health officials say stay inside

NASA image showing smoke plumes blowing north/northeast from Rim Fire outside Yosemite National Park

This NASA image shows smoke from the Rim Fire blowing toward Lake Tahoe.

By Kathryn Reed

A fire hundreds of miles from Lake Tahoe has forced the cancellation of the 24th annual Lake in the Sky Air Show.

South Lake Tahoe City Manager Nancy Kerry said the FAA requires 1.5 to 3 miles of visibility and that as of Friday afternoon it is only at one mile.

And with the National Weather Service in Reno saying the smoky skies are expected to stay through the weekend, city officials did not want to take a chance and wait to call off of the show on Saturday morning – the day of the show.

The Rim Fire burning out of control near Yosemite National Park is bringing the eerie color skies to the basin. As of 3pm Aug. 23 that fire was at 105,620 acres and 2 percent containment. Fire crews say the growth potential is “extreme”.

Kerry said there was talk of having a static air show – as in planes just on the ground. However, she said with El Dorado County public health issuing a warning for people to stay indoors, the city could not justify having people stand around inhaling the smoke – including employees and the public.

“By Labor Day it will blow out. I wish we could just switch the air show to then,” Kerry told Lake Tahoe News.

El Dorado County has said the air quality is “unhealthy”. The smoke is prevalent in El Dorado Hills and only gets stronger coming through the American River Canyon into the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Douglas County officials are also recommending people stay indoors. Air samples taken Friday in Gardnerville put the air quality in the upper end of the “moderate” level in the Carson Valley.

The National Weather Service in Reno has issued a dense smoke advisory for Alpine County and the southern part of the Lake Tahoe Basin through 7pm Aug. 24. Visibility in Markleeville and along parts of Highway 50 is expected to drop to one-quarter mile.

Ash has fallen in the Carson Valley and Alpine County.

Air quality is also an issue for the North Shore and Truckee and Carson areas. The American Fire that is burning near Foresthill is also hitting those regions.

“Afternoon-evening winds are forecast to increase somewhat each day this weekend, with winds gusts 20-30 mph Saturday and up to 35 mph Sunday. Any holdover fires from the lightning earlier this week could flare up with these gusts,” Jon Mittelstadt with the Weather Service said.

The good news about the wind is that should blow the smoke out of the basin.

In addition to the air show’s being canceled, the South Lake Tahoe city pool and Bijou Golf Course are closed. The decision to open them will be on a day-to-day basis, but Kerry said to expect them to be closed through the weekend.

Other cancellations:

• Aug. 23 Minden Concert in the Park.

• The Aug. 24-25 Lake Tahoe Outrigger Challenge Race at Lakeview Commons.

• The Strawberry Music Festival at Camp Mather on Labor Day weekend.



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Comments (14)
  1. dumbfounded says - Posted: August 23, 2013

    Karma can be a stern mentor.

  2. Dogula says - Posted: August 23, 2013

    What the heck does karma have to do with a horrible fire??????? You think people deserve this somehow? That’s just sick.

  3. lou pierini says - Posted: August 23, 2013

    How about the CASA fundraiser?

  4. cosa pescado says - Posted: August 23, 2013

    ” That’s just sick.”

    Apparently you haven’t read the Good Book. It reads like a snuff film. With more incest.

  5. Av8rGal says - Posted: August 23, 2013

    Very disappointed. I do hope they reschedule it for later this year.

  6. T says - Posted: August 23, 2013

    “Hundreds of miles”! Sure if your driving though it’s more like 150 miles but smoke travels “like the crow flies” and that is about 77 miles from the airport to Groveland, CA! Yes, having to cancel events is unfortunate but come on people there is a massive fire burning.

  7. copper says - Posted: August 23, 2013

    I hope they’ll be able to reschedule it as well. I’ve been unable to make it the last couple of years due to other, equally exciting and loud, events conflicting, and I wasn’t going to make it this year for the same reason. Yet again, I’m off to the Reno Air Races a couple of weekends from now, and I’d really like to see another down-home South Lake Tahoe air show this year.

  8. Dawna says - Posted: August 23, 2013

    I’m hoping they get the fire under control and out, not because I want to see an air show or do other outside activities, but because it’s devastating to the local forest (although portions will benefit), wildlife, and people in the vicinity of the fire, and because people upwind with asthma or other respiratory ailments are suffering. Gee, Copper, so sorry this may affect your busy busy schedule.

  9. Dogula says - Posted: August 23, 2013

    @Fish: I’ve never read anything in the Bible about karma.
    Your attempt at flippancy falls flat in light of this tragedy.

  10. cosa pescado says - Posted: August 23, 2013

    I didn’t want to have to explain to you how my comment is relevant. But here I go. Both karma and angry sky man share the idea of a larger force righting wrongs, vengeance, cause and effect.
    And the concept is mentioned in the Bible (Galatians 6:7).
    Atheists tend to know more about scripture, its no big deal so don’t sweat it.

  11. dumbfounded says - Posted: August 24, 2013

    What is sick is to make assumptions about someone’s thoughts and become outraged about your assumption.

    The Airfest was started 24 years ago by local pilots and the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) as a fundraiser for their programs for young aviators. The Airshow was taken over by City bureaucrats and, now that their claws are sunk into the Airshow, it may never fly again. The CAP isn’t even involved any more. Maybe another $10K, $20K or $30K can revive it. That is sad.

    Neither of you had it right, Dogula or cosa.

  12. cosa pescado says - Posted: August 24, 2013

    Angry Sky Man particularly detests bureaucracy.

  13. Haaaa says - Posted: August 26, 2013

    to Cosa. You’re absolutely right, Karma is real. And to Dumb….. you’re right too about the CAP. The airshow will NEVER be what it used to be. EVER

  14. Cally says - Posted: August 26, 2013

    You sound like a bunch of siblings squabbling…its funny when you get into a pristine area and peel back the local onion…you get this arrogance like its mine and nobody else should be able to enjoy…Tahoe is for all to enjoy; to whomever have the desire and wherewithal. There are many tragedies world wide not just this horrific epic fire…stop the bantering and start visualizing the fire out…use your God given spirit to create not destroy….an Atheist who reads and quotes scripture that’s a good one; I dare you take it one step further go to a Calvary Chapel; where the word and spirit come together; and if you dare ask the spirit to come into you~ that’s where you will find love….love like no other. Peace and Grace defined and lets pray for the children in Syria and Firefighters; do you know we recently lost 20 Hotshots; this is real life…lets get off the blog and go support those who need us. See you out there~ we are all in this life together, lets be kind.