Blaze Ignites Early Fire Season

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INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev.-- We have been saying it for weeks, but on Friday there was a sure sign that fire season is upon us. Around 2:30 in morning, a fire broke out and scorched half an acre of rugged territory in Incline Village.

It's size was a relatively small fire, about half and acre, but for this time of year the blaze has some serious implications.

The area where the fire happened is usually covered in snow this time of year, but with the dry conditions we have seen this season, it didn't come as a big surprise.

Almost a mile above Incline Village is where Tahoe saw its first significant fire of the season.

"Well it was quite unusual, I would more readily expect that in summer during high fire season," said Laurie Conner, who woke Friday morning to the smell of smoke. She was the first to discover flames on the mountain.

"It was a little ironic and a little disturbing to see in the middle of January," said Conner.

The fire started in dense fuels and had the potential to grow significantly even though we're still in the middle of winter.

"There was absolutely wind that could have caused us bigger issues for containing the fire," said Aaron Grove with the U.S. Forest Service.

On the ground right now there is less than 20% of average snow. That means dry fuels.

"They were already dry and they have not had any time, given the limited precipitation to actually absorb any moisture so they are continuing to dry even further," said Grove.

It's a reminder to take extra care in preventing sources of ignition. An official cause of this blaze has not been released but firefighters believe an unattended campfire started the blaze.

"I'd say we need to be smart when we are out in the woods and we need to practice fire prevention techniques," said Grove.