American fire area remains closed because of hazards, lingering hot spots

Published: Sunday, Sep. 8, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2B

Even though the American fire was contained Aug. 29 and smoke is clearing, Tahoe National Forest officials say the fire area remains hazardous and a closure order is still in effect.

Gwen Ernst-Ulrich, the forest's acting public-affairs officer, says the following hazards exist within the 27,440 acres that burned near Foresthill:

• Unstable burned trees and tree limbs can fall at any time, particularly during wind gusts.

• Rolling material, including large rocks, can fall on roads and trails.

• Stump holes burning underground are not easily detected.

• Ash pits that walkers can sink into often have hidden hot material.

• Intermittent smoke, ash and dust are breathing and eye hazards.

• Unburned vegetation within the fire area can ignite without warning, bringing entrapment danger.

• Large vehicles such as water tenders and fire engines are present on narrow dirt roads with limited turnouts.

The fire closure order will remain in effect until the fire is "out," which means cold to the touch, Ernst-Ulrich said.

"With the heavy fuels and large stumps that hold heat, 'out' is not expected until substantial rain and snow have blanketed the fire, she said.

-Barbara Barte Osborn

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