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Caldor Fire swells to nearly 23,000 acres | Evacuations, maps and road closure information

Because of the severity of the fire, Gov. Newsom has issued a state of emergency for El Dorado County.

GRIZZLY FLATS, Calif. — Click here for Wednesday's updates.

The Caldor Fire completely devastated the town of Grizzly Flats. ABC10’s John Bartell was able to access the town Tuesday morning and said he could count on one hand the number of structures that remained standing.

The fire burned at least 50 homes and ravaged the small town of Grizzly Flats after exploding overnight Monday and Tuesday. Hot, dry and gusty weather is driving flames through tinder-dry vegetation.  

The post office and several surrounding buildings, the fire department, and the elementary school are just some of the structures that are confirmed to have burned down to the foundation. The population of the gold rush town was estimated at 1,195, according to a 2019 estimate.

At least two Grizzly Flats residents have been injured by the fire, according to Cal Fire. One of the people injured was transported from the area with serious injuries after approaching firefighters. The second person suffered severe injuries during the “operational period” on Tuesday. That person was flown by helicopter to a local hospital.

Because of the severity of the fire, Gov. Newsom has issued a state of emergency for El Dorado County.

"Governor Newsom has proclaimed a state of emergency in counties impacted by the McFarland and Monument fires, Antelope and River fires, Dixie, Fly and Tamarack fires and the Lava Fire and Beckwourth Complex," the governor's office said in a press release.

A Fire Management Assistance Grant was secured to help with resources to tame the blaze not long after the announcement.

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. On Tuesday, the fire grew from a few thousand acres to 22,919 acres, according to an 11 p.m. update from Cal Fire. The acreage was walked back from a figure of more than 30,000 acres that was given during an evening press conference. There is no current containment. 

"The actual number of destroyed/damaged structures is undetermined as fire conditions are not yet safe to bring in damage assessment teams," Cal Fire's report states.

Because of the extreme urgency to battle this fire, crews with the Sacramento Fire Department, the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department, Folsom Fire Department, and Cosumnes River Fire Department have all be deployed to assist.

Cal Fire said the blaze experienced "unprecedented fire behavior and growth" due to south winds and dry fuels. A red flag warning is still in effect for the fire area through 8:00 p.m. as winds switch to the northeast. Crews prioritized evacuating people and providing structure protection.

Residents in Placerville are being warned about heavy traffic on westbound Highway 50 as residents evacuate from the Caldor Fire. Drivers should expect delays and congestion on the highway and on surface streets, officials warn.

“People are panicking, for sure. I panicked a little bit. I have my dad who can’t walk, my grandbaby, so I panicked a little bit as well. But you have to take a deep breath,” said Pollock Pines resident Renne Gautier.

Lines of cars extended into the street at the Shell gas station in Pollock Pines late Tuesday morning. The nearby parking lot at Safeway was packed with people trying to stock up and get out to safety.

Shelters in Diamond Springs and Cameron Park were at full capacity by 9:45 p.m. ABC10's Giacomo Luca was at the Cameron Park shelter Tuesday night and reported that some people are in the parking lot and sleeping in their cars.

According to Cal OES, 6,850 people have been forced from their homes due to the Caldor Fire as of 7 p.m.

Hannah Hammond, one of the evacuees, learned that her home didn't survive the flames after she packed up her newborn son and two young daughters to escape the fire.

Robert Browning, of Pleasant Valley, is still waiting to hear what happened to his home.

“I’m pretty shook up, worried about the house. You know, it’s a terrible thing to lose, everything you own,” he said.

With the two shelters full, people looking for shelter were directed to Green Valley Church at 3500 Missouri Flat Road in Placerville.

Manual traffic controls, or Trip-To-Green, have been implemented on Highway 50 and CHP officers are not allowing cross-traffic at these times officials said.

Evacuations and road closures

Click HERE for in-depth evacuation orders and warnings in El Dorado County. For current state highway/route information visit roads.dot.ca.gov.

Evacuation Shelters

  • Green Valley Community Church, 3500 Missouri Flat, Placerville, Calif. [Operated by the American Red Cross]

Shelters at the Cameron Park Community Services District and Diamond Springs Fire Hall are at full capacity.

(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

Evacuation maps

Wildfire maps

Wildfire Preps

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.

WATCH: What you need to know to prepare, stay safe for wildfires

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.

Some counties use Nixle alerts to update residents on severe weather, wildfires, and other news. To sign up, visit www.nixle.com or text your zip code to 888777 to start receiving alerts. 

Read more: Are you wildfire ready? Here's what to do to prepare for fire season.

PG&E customers can also subscribe to alerts via text, email, or phone call. If you're a PG&E customer, visit the Profile & Alerts section of your account to register.

What questions do you have about the latest wildfires? If you're impacted by the wildfires, what would you like to know? Text the ABC10 team at (916) 321-3310.

WATCH MORE: VERIFY: California Wildfires: Caldor Fire evening briefing - Aug. 17, 2021

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