One of our web polls this week asked, “Should the TRPA be held accountable for the homes destroyed in the Angora Fire?” We received many thoughtful comments and would like to share them with all of you for discussion. Take a look and add a comment yourself.
The people that live in wooded areas have to know they are at higher risk of fire and its damages. Why should we hold the planners liable ??? It is our responsibility to clear and keep our homes safe from fires....
TRPA fined me for cutting half dead trees without a permit. They did not care about the forest or fire danger, they only cared about the size of the fine. It's not about the forest or the lake--it's about the money!
TRPA is INSANE with all the rules and regulations they put on property owners in Lake Tahoe. Owners are fined for property improvements if it doesn't fit into TRPA's criteria. Yes TRPA should be held responsable for the damage to homes and property in the Angora fire and even disbanned so owners can be allowed to make improvements without jumping through endless hoops of regulations.
Yes, TRPA, both the group and the individual members, should be held accountable for any acts by them or their employees that has an adverse and harmful effect on those who they regulate. To prevent homeowners from clearing dangerous fuels from their property is a reckless and baseless act by TRPA. There are other means to prevent runoff going into the lake and its tributaries. TRPA also interfered with the Forest Service and their plans to clear areas of dense tree and brush growth...all for TRPA's vision of "beauty."
TRPA had agreements with the local fire district for years in the Angora Firea area, where the fire officials would identify trees that should be removed. No other TRPA approval was needed. Did homeowners invest the money to remove trees for defensible space, which is expensive? Many did not. Did absentee owners keep their properties clean? Many did not. Is good defensible space guaranteed to allow a house to be saved? No. Homeowners in a forest must recognize there is a risk. TRPA is being unfairly bashed.
We think the TRPA should be responsible for the Angora Fire. Everyone on the board lives out of town. They should'nt be allowed to dictate to the property owners as of what they can and can't do with their property. It seems they made a big mistake with other peoples lives.
Yes, TRPA needs to be held accountable. Also the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, the League to Save Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Club, the US Forest Service, and all the environmental groups that have killed the logging industry rather than trying to reform it. Shame on all of them. They have, for 20+ years, beat down the voices of reason for responsible forest management. Unless things change, and soon, there will be other, and more catastrophic, fires, in the Tahoe Basin and throughout the west.
Aside from the obvious issue of fuel overload in the Tahoe basin forest due to dead trees, brush, ladder fuels and overcrowding of trees which TRPA actions and policies have done little to alleviate, I see one very obvious issue which is dangerous to the area.
I am not familiar with the requirements in the California part of the lake but here in Incline Village, (I have been a resident and homeowner for 37 years), we have repeatedly been informed thaat we must comply with BMP's (Best Management Practices)in order to protect the lake clarity from siltration due to erosion by covering all exposed ground with 3-5 inches of pine needles or gravel.
Gravel will trap pine needles even when regularly raked and lead the fire right up to a house. Pine needles are highly flammable and will do the same. True, they do reccommend using the "duff" layer of longterm compacted and half rotted underlying pine needles but when these have been cleaned up long ago in order to create defensable space, they require pine needles, wood chip or gravel be used. I have created defensible space around my home for the last 30 years because of the fire hazard. Where I have notices early signs of erosion, I have built retaining walls of native rock and installed french drains and 3 foot deep gravel infiltration trenches.
However the media still keeps publishing articles in the local paper of BMP requirements and the fact that so many of us are not in compliance due to the fact that we have raked up all pine needles and have not covered all open ground.
A few years ago storm drains were installed throughout Incline. All contaminants, (sand from the road department, oil and gas spills and anything else that is on our streets is washed with the snowmelt into the storm drains and deposited directly into Lake Tahoe. I think that this is an obvious source of siltration and polution contributing to loss of Lake Tahoe clarity. I don't think the BMP requirement for coverage of all open ground is and I think this requirement is a direct contributor to the fire hazard in the Tahoe basin area.
For obvious reasons I would like to not use my name or my husbands name on this communication. It would only result in the authorities showing up and fining us for not being in compliance with current BMP requirements. Hopefully you can use this information to publicly shed some light on this source of fire hazard which may have been a major contributor to the Angora fire tragedy.
Following a major disaster, especially a wildland fire, where hundreds suffer such profound loss, rumors always grow. In addtion, human tendency during the grieving process is to try to find someone or something to blame in order to facilitate making sense out of the uncontrollable events that put lives one in chaos. Thus this reaction is, quite naturally, almost entirely an emotional one and rational evaluation and persceptive do not have much influence for quite some time.
I've answered no to the question because at this point all we have is rumor and conjecture without the facts needed to make such a decision. We have a lot of emotion and rumor and making decisions based on that is tantamount to mob rule.
I do believe that an independent review or investigation by an outside investigation team made up of people with the qualifications necessary to evaluate the events that occurred before and during the Angora Fire. The qualifications should include knowledge and experience in fuels and vegetation management, fire behavior, fire suppression, soils, and forestry. If changes in policies and procedures need to be made by any agency, whether that be the TRPA, U.S. Forest Service, El Dorado County, the city of South Lake Tahoe, if those homes are inside the city limits of that city. These changes should be based on the facts gathered in a thorough investigation with no political pressure or or influence being placed on members of the team.
That investigation should be fully accessible to the public once it is finished. Should there be sufficient information in that report and in facts gathered from other sources, then it is up to a court of law to determine if the TRPA or any of the other agencies should be held accountable for this loss of property.
I am a retired U.S. Forest Service employee, a graduate forester, worked on 108 wildland fires in my career, was qualified as a claims and accident investigator, and gained a significant amount of knowledge and experience in managing liability and in responding to tort claims brought by citizens against the federal government. The experience included several hours of being on the witness stand in federal district court in Reno. A few of the fires I worked on resulted in the loss of homes and I have worked with people who lost their homes in wildfires. I have lost a classmate and a cousin to fire fighting as well as fellow agency employees who were fighting a wildfire, not because of high resource values but because of subdivisions built in a wildland setting that consisted of very dangerous fuels with a history of frequent burning.
On another subject it was interesting to see the story on the law offices of Larry H. Parker targeting advertising to those who experienced propety loss as a result of the Angora Fire. Particularly interesting was the discussion on the ethics of such advertising. I could not help noticing that later in the newscast that KOLO ran the same commercials, thus generating some income for the station in doing so. This could be looked at as ironic or incongruous, perhaps.
T.R.P.A: (They Rarely Protect Anything)....You are the problem, not the solution.
regarding the angora fire. The fire was called in by a number of people.They were told that the fire was a controlled burn. My friend called the fire in between 1:30 and 1:45. It was 45 minutes before he heard the first sirens. I think tht there is some liability with the government idiot that let the fire burn until it was out of control.
If you are wealthy enough to have a nice home in Tahoe you should be smart enough to know that trees and brush burn. Forrest living means defensible space. Everyone with an IQ of 50+ in CA and NV should know that. Duh.
Yes, the Nazi's at the TRPA should be held accoutable.
What about the person/persons who started an illegal campfire - that is where the blame should be. Governmental agencies are easy to blame but the first ones that respond to a fire are governmental workers.
I was appalled when I learned I could not remove a tree standing next to my home, or even branches that were brushing against my (then)wood shake roof. I was allowed to replace the roof.