EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. — Click here for Thursday's updates.
As water trickles down Highway 50’s iconic Bridalveil Falls, a plume of smoke towers over the hillside behind it. Below the smoke is the insatiable Caldor Fire.
The fire has already crossed Mormon Emigrant Trail road which is just 5 miles from Highway 50. Down in the canyon, trees were scorched as the fire makes its way toward towns like White Hall and Kyburz.
The Caldor Fire started on Saturday, Aug. 14, two miles east of Omo Ranch and four miles south of the community of Grizzly Flats in El Dorado County. On its first day, it only grew 45 acres, but since then, it has burned thousands of acres of land. The fire has burned 62,586 acres, according to Cal Fire. There is no current containment.
Joan Winton is a camp host at Wrights Lake. She evacuated her guests Tuesday. On Wednesday night, she gathered the sentimental items from her cabin along Highway 50 before she herself evacuates.
“I have a cabin here and so I came up to possibly say good bye to it,” Winton said.
From Highway 50, the fire can be hard to see. A tree-filled canyon wall stands between the fire and the property owners along Highway 50. That’s why so many people like Winton are not waiting around to see the flames crest the hill.
They would join the 23,000 people that have been forced from their homes due to the fire. These evacuees are finding respite wherever they can, even the Target parking lot in Placerville. It's not somewhere that evacuee Deborah Pedro thought she'd be when the week started, but she thinks the setup is more than ideal.
“Target's wonderful. We can go in and get our resources. We can get our food. I think it was ingenious, an ingenious idea," she said.
Stepping in to fill the gaps as shelters fill up and neighbors look to donate surplus goods, the War Cry Motorcycle Club in Placerville are some of the people trying to make the shelter stays for evacuees a little easier.
"It's all community members driving by, seeing this. I'm sure they're seeing a lot on Facebook, everyone sharing. So, it's a big community effort," said Ronny Merril, president of the club.
In a community meeting, firefighters said they had better weather conditions than they expected for the firefight. North winds expected from a Red Flag Warning didn't make themselves known and a smoke inversion helped dampen fire activity
Crews said the fire hasn't made it to Sly Park Road as of their 5 p.m. update, noting that it was still at least one and a half miles away.
Evacuations and Road Closures
Click HERE for in-depth evacuation orders and warnings in El Dorado County. For evacuation orders and warnings in Amador County, click HERE for the Amador County Sheriff's Facebook page. For current state highway/route information visit roads.dot.ca.gov.
- El Dorado Community Center 6139 Pleasant Valley Road
- Amador County Fairgrounds for animal evacuations only
- Evelyn Bishop Hall
Large animals can be taken to the Amador County Fairgrounds, Empire Street at Highway 49, use the Empire Street gate. Call 530-621-5795 or 530-647-6227 for more information. For small animal shelter needs, contact the El Dorado County Animal Services at 530-621-5795.
Accounts to follow
A map of evacuations from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office is available below.
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If you live in a wildfire-prone zone, Cal Fire suggests creating a defensible space around your home. Defensible space is an area around a building in which vegetation and other debris are completely cleared. At least 100 feet is recommended.
The Department of Homeland Security suggests assembling an emergency kit that has important documents, N95 respirator masks, supplies to grab with you if you’re forced to leave at a moment’s notice. The agency also suggests signing up for local warning system notifications and know your community’s evacuation plans best to prepare yourself and your family in cases of wildfires.
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