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South Lake Tahoe Wildfire Burning Out Of Control

The fire at the south end of Lake Tahoe is burning out of control on U.S. Forest Service land near the Heavenly ski area.

Kingsbury Grade, which links the Carson Valley with the lake is closed. Some people have been told to leave their homes near the top of the grade. Voluntary evacuations are being recommended elsewhere in the sparsely populated area.

Fire spokesman Rex Norman says the blaze has burned at least 100 acres. Gusty winds to 22 miles an hour are causing the fire to spot well ahead of the main fronts.

The fire started small at the bottom of the hill behind the South Lake Tahoe Raley´s Supermarket at about 12:30 p.m., then exploded as the afternoon wore on. Heavenly´s marketing vice president, John Wagnon, says the ski area´s gondola kept running to successfully evacuate people who were at the higher elevations, then shut down.

Air tankers from Minden and a helicopter were called in to battle a fire burning near the Heavenly gondola.

In the Raley´s Supermarket at the base of the mountain, head clerk Hazel Murphy says the fire started shortly after noon and grew quickly in brisk winds.

Forest Service firefighters are on the scene as well as firefighters from the city of South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District and the Lake Tahoe Protection District. The East Fork Fire District stood ready to assist in Douglas County.