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Alpine County Wildfire Explodes To 9,500 Acres; Evacuations Underway

MARKLEEVILLE (KCBS) — Evacuations are underway in the area of Markleeville, about 30 miles south of Lake Tahoe after a wildfire broke out over the weekend and exploded to first 6,500 acres, and then 9,500 acres by Monday afternoon.

The Washington Fire was first reported at 7 p.m. Friday in steep, hilly terrain in Alpine County.

Incident Commander Scott Fraser told Reno's CBS 2 News that there just aren't enough resources.

"The West is starting to burn, and there's a lot of competition for fire engines, and hand crews, and aircraft, and this wind is so strong our aircraft cannot fly."

Fraser describes the area saying, "There's timber in that area that hasn't burned in at least 100, if not more years."


U.S. Forestry Service spokeswoman Elizabeth Kenna says extremely dry conditions due to the four-year drought and erratic high winds have caused spot fires a mile away from the main fire.

Various tweets tagged #WashingtonFire show the amount of smoke rising over the Sierra Nevada.

She says Markleeville is the main concern at the moment:

"The crews are really focused on protecting Markleeville and keeping that historic area safe as well, of course, as the people and the safety of the firefighters and the residents that live in that area," Kenna says.

INCIDENT PAGE: Continually Updated Fire Fight Information

Fire map from InciWeb

The smoke from this and other fires may also create breathing issues for many youth away at summer camps in the Sierra. Parents with students heading up with asthma or other conditions should be cautious this season. The Boy Scouts of America runs the Wolfboro Campground just a few miles south of the fire perimeter. Albany's Troop 14 is currently camping there through the weekend.

No injuries have been reported, and no homes or structures have been damaged, but several homes and historic buildings are threatened.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Firefighters are battling three other wildfires in California, the largest in Southern California in the San Bernardino Mountains which has burned more than 17,000 acres.

500 acres have also burned south of Yosemite in the Sierra National Forest.

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