Tahoe Community Targets Barbecue Grills After Wildfire

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. (AP) - A Lake Tahoe community is cracking
down on certain barbecue grills after one was blamed for igniting a
wildfire and destroying five homes on the lake's west shore last

The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District has launched a campaign to inform residents around Incline Village on the lake's north shore about a new code that affects the use of propane and charcoal grills and other outdoor cooking devices on decks of multi-family dwellings.

The code bans all propane grills and only allows charcoal grills to remain if a permanent sprinkler system is in place above the deck. It only allows natural gas grills that are permanently installed on a deck and meet certain specifications.

District officials are trying to get the word out about the danger posed by grills to condominium and apartment complexes.

"The way we look at this is these can be very dangerous not only to the occupants with the grills but to everyone in their building," district Fire Marshal Tom Smith told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza.

In August, a propane grill was blamed for igniting a wooden deck near the resort community of Sunnyside and sparking a 20-acre wildfire. Authorities said the blaze started at one home and quickly spread to four others.

Smith cited statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, which estimated charcoal grills caused 400 home structure fires and gas grills sparked 600 such blazes in 2001.

The local fire district and condominium associations are working together to create community barbecue areas for their members,
Smith said.

Sabrina Ferris, association manager of Stillwater Cove condominiums, said her asociation is already taking steps to meet the code.

"We're in the process of getting two permanently installed, natural gas grills permitted for the use of our residents," Ferris said. "Some of our residents weren't happy with the ordinance, but in general they understand that the reason for the ordinance is safety and they accept it."

The restrictions are part of the 2006 International Fire Code that was adopted by the district and took effect on Jan. 1.

The North Tahoe Fire Protection District around Tahoe City, Calif., near where the five homes were destroyed last summer, does not have a similar ordinance and is not considering one, said district Fire Marshal Dave Ruben.

The August blaze occurred about 20 miles north of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., where a wildfire that began June 24 destroyed 254 homes and charred more than 3,000 acres.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-03-08-08 1809EST