Let us add our thanks to the firefighting crews who made amazingly quick work of knocking down and containing the fire that broke out July 3 near the gondola at Heavenly Ski Resort.
The billowing cloud of smoke, clearly visible from Carson City, seemed to grow more menacing by the minute that afternoon. Everyone knows a wildfire in these dry conditions is only a matter of when, not if, and it seemed like the beginning of a long July 4 weekend at Lake Tahoe was the worst possible scenario.
As fast as the fire was spreading, though, fire crews and emergency-response teams were moving faster. Planes, helicopters and hand crews were mobilized for a quick strike. Every available fire department from Northern Nevada was deployed to protect homes.
Evacuation centers were set up quickly, and people were headed for safety as the danger pressed toward Upper Kingsbury Grade. Considering the number of people in the area and the potential for chaos, what we saw was mostly an orderly and calm retreat.
With the threat of wildfire a constant summer companion, residents seemed ready. Firefighters certainly were well-prepared, and it was clear one day later -- on July 4 itself -- they had gained the upper hand.
We know there remains a long fire season ahead of us, and the reassurance we can take away from the two significant fires already at Walker and Heavenly is the skill and fortitude of firefighters.
Unfortunately, the fire under the gondola was another man-caused fire, apparently from a careless smoker. All that preparation and skill can only go so far against one random, thoughtless act.