SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Fire officials say gusty winds are calming and giving them a chance to throw all their resources into boxing a California blaze that is scant miles from Lake Tahoe and neighboring Nevada.
Three days of fiercely gusting winds had driven the Caldor Fire east through the rugged Sierra Nevada, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.
But forecasts call for the winds to calm heading into the weekend. Commanders have warned firefighters to keep their guard up against continuing dangers. Localized terrain-driven winds that happen as the sun heats the ground are forecast Thursday in the area of the Caldor Fire. And even though there has been a slight increase in humidity, the vegetation is still extremely dry.
In a 5 p.m. update, fire officials said they're continuing to see some challenges near the Kirkwood area after the fire jumped Highway 88 days ago. Crews are using aircraft and looking for some other ways to get the fire under control.
North of Highway 50, west zone Operation Section Chief Eric Schwab said the fire hasn't made it to Wrights Lake proper, but crews are taking an aggressive approach with the fire, as they try to take the fire up to a rockier area to stop its spread.
Lower Echo Lake saw some fire activity as crews fight from the fire's edge to try and keep it from getting to any structures in the area, according east zone section chief Jake Cagle. Structure preparation continues in the upper area of Echo Lake.
Cagle said the fire also got active east of Highway 89, forcing the firefighters to Luther Spires, where he said crews will engage with the blaze on the fire's edge to drive it back up to the 213 road.
Cal Fire also announced Thursday morning that some evacuation warnings had been lifted in El Dorado County and several orders had been downgraded to warnings.
Responding to community questions about the potential repopulation of Pollock Pines, Cal Fire law liaison John Davis said that while there is containment in the area, fire isn't the only danger. He noted that heat and smoke is still popping up in the area with potential to slop over, and that there's still some work to do with roads and powerlines before it is safe for the community.
ABC10's John Bartell toured through the area. He reported that utility crews are starting the long process of restoring power and clearing debris, so evacuees can start coming back home.
Officials in Douglas County, Nevada, issued an urgent correction to evacuation orders in the Round Hill area. Officials say that area was included in the order out of an abundance of caution, however, they have since removed it.
Last week, managers overseeing the fight against the massive wildfire scorching California’s Lake Tahoe region thought they could have it contained by the start of this week. Instead, on Monday the Caldor Fire crested the Sierra Nevada, forcing the unprecedented evacuation of all 22,000 residents of South Lake Tahoe.
That drastic move might never have been needed if authorities could have thrown more firefighters at the blaze when it was small. They didn’t because at that point the Dixie Fire was raging to the north, on the way to becoming the second-largest wildfire in California history. Wildfire experts say losing that initial opportunity meant it would be virtually impossible to corral the Caldor Fire.
The Caldor Fire has burned at least 700 homes and other buildings and threatens at least 33,000 others. It has grown to 210,893 acres and is 27% contained. A total of five people have been injured, three firefighters and two residents.
The fire is named the Caldor Fire, after the road where it started on Aug. 14 near the community of Grizzly Flats. That is about 35 miles from Lake Tahoe.
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 and HERE for their website. For current state highway/route information visit roads.dot.ca.gov.
El Dorado County Shelters
- Green Valley Community Church, Placerville
- Cameron Park CSD, Cameron Park
- Rolling Hills Church, El Dorado Hills
Nevada County Shelter
- Truckee Veterans Hall, 10214 High St, Truckee
- Temporary Evacuation Point Italian Picnic Grounds, Sutter Creek
Nevada State Shelter
- Reno/Sparks Convention Center at 4590 S. Virginia Street, Reno
- Douglas County Community Center, Gardnerville - Douglas County residents only
- Reno Sparks Convention Center
- RV Dry Camping and Large Animals, Dayton Event Center/Rodeo Grounds
- Lyon County Fair Grounds, Yerington
Animal Evacuation Centers:
- El Dorado County Animal Services (small animals), Diamond Springs. For animal evacuation questions or assistance call (530) 621-5795
- Saureel Vineyards (large animals), Placerville - FULL
- Amador County Fairgrounds (large animal)- for Amador County residents only, Plymouth
- Reno Sparks Convention Center Reno - Limited crates and space available for pets.
- Lyon County Fair Grounds, Yerington
- Dayton Event Center/Rodeo Grounds – Dry Camping Only, Dayton
- Douglas County Fairgrounds, Gardnerville
Accounts to follow
A map of evacuations from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office is available below.
An evacuation map from the Amador County Sheriff's Office can be viewed HERE.
Online Structure Damage Map
An online structure damage map is available by clicking HERE or viewing below. To locate your home, type in the address in the top left corner. If you don't see an icon, the structure has not yet been identified.
Click here for a map of the Caldor Fire.
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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.
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.
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.
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