Lake Tahoe Fire — The Biggest Fire in History

Mosquito fire grows past 50,000 acres in ‘historically dry’ brush as another blaze ignites west of Tahoe City

This map shows the location of the blaze over the weekend.

A brush fire that grew into a 50,000-acre blaze last Saturday morning has burned more than half the area of historic fire-free land in Lake Tahoe, according to the State Fire Marshal.

At its peak, the fire near the Lake Tahoe-Nevada border stretched nearly 100 miles and was one of the largest wildfires in history to have begun in such a dry area. Despite early forecasts that the blaze would lose momentum, and a wet start to the day, firefighters say that as the fire raged, it was difficult to keep up with it.

“I don’t remember any fire that burned so hot, to the point where it had a wind of more than 30 miles an hour,” said Deputy State Fire Marshal Mike Shivers. “We were fighting it with all the resources we had, and that wasn’t enough.”

The fire is now 80% contained, and by mid-afternoon, it was down to approximately 3,200 acres. The next step of the battle, Shivers said, would be making sure the fire was contained within the bounds of the state lands burned. It’s believed the fire was sparked by a lightning strike, and Shivers said it was likely the same fire burning in the California brush.

Here is a look at the fire from a helicopter.

A helicopter flies over the ongoing Lake Tahoe Fire.

The Lake Fire is part of a larger pattern of fires burning in the Lake Tahoe basin. There were 10 major fires burning in Lake Tahoe in June, and 16 the previous month. The three largest were on June 2-3, including the Lake Fire burning on July 3 in the Sierra Nevada. It was the biggest fire of the year.

In total, 13 major fires burned in Nevada and California in June. The three worst fires in Lake Tahoe have burned nearly 20,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 structures.

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