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Martis Fire
East of Truckee, CA
Started: Sunday 17 June 2001

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The Martis fire was reported just after noon and by early evening had grown to over 12,000 acres. A Reno Fire Chief said that it as dry now as it is typically in mid-August which contributed to the rapid growth of the fire. The above pictures were taken around 10:15 PM PDT Sunday between above Hirschdale and in between Glenshire and Floriston close to where the fire started. As of afternoon Tuesday 19 June, only one structure has burnt and the fire is 30% contained.


Men and Machines Arrive
Night Sunday 17 June 2001

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I spent most of Saturday afternoon and early evening working on various computer projects. Being a new pilot, I have started taking more notice of the different types of planes flying overhead. This Sunday seemed to be a bit more busy than usual with more twin engined planes and not as many small jets than on a typical Sunday. Finally Sunday evening, I wondered if something was burning in the area. I couldn't see anything but the typical view of trees from my house. Because I have satellite TV and do not receive local TV stations, I checked one of the Reno TV station's web sites. Yes, there is a fire in the Truckee area.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Martis fire is the only "major incident" in California. As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 105 fire crews and 242 engines on site from all over California and western Nevada. The crews started arriving Sunday afternoon and were staging Sunday night (see photos above) in Hirschdale along the Truckee River. The bulldozer silhouetted in the middle is wide enough to tear down my house in two swipes.


1 Day After
I80 Between Reno and Truckee
Monday 18 June

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Interstate 80 was closed for eight hours on Sunday when the fire jumped from the south side to the north side of the interstate. 30 hours after the fire started, I drove through the area from the fire and equipment photos above. While there are strips along the river that did not burn, most to all of the canyon sides are gray with ash and are continuing to smoke. While they may be mistaken as clouds above the mountains, the photos above show the smoke coming from the fires on the other side of the ridge looking south from I80. The areas above may be now be prone to mudslides and avalanches. The water quality of the Truckee River at the base of these mountains is expected to have problems.


From Martis Peak
 Fire Lookout Station
Dusk Monday 18 June

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The fire by Monday night was 10% contained with no estimate when the fire would be either fully contained or controlled. The above photos are looking northeasterly from Martis Peak. Back fires were lit to starve the fire's fuel source and to protect some of Truckee's watersheds. The enlarged versions of the lower two photos show the hundreds of burning hotspots.


Trucke-Tahoe Airport
Night Monday 18 June

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As the Martis fire is the current major incident, there are two air units assigned to it. While the 12 airtankers may be based out of Nevada City and Redding, the relatively slow helicopters are basing out of the Truckee-Tahoe Airport. The helicopter's advantage is that they can refill their buckets, in case of the left helicopter, or their water tanks, in case of the right helicopter, in hover from the Truckee River. One runway, 1-19, is currently closed to support the helicopters.

Both helicopters and airtankers have been grounded until the late morning the past two days due to temperature inversions. The good news is that inversions happen when there isn't any wind. The bad news is that the inversions usually breakup when the wind picks up which it usually does by 10:00 or 11:00 each morning.


Entertainment in Truckee

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While we don't have bear watching at the local dump, we occasionally have other spectacles to watch. The left photo is from Sunday night and shows the hillside above Hirschdale burning. The right-side photo was taken Monday night from Martis Peak and is looking northeast.




Photos and commentary by .