Caldor expands to 136k acres, 12% contained

Update 11:09 a.m.:

More evacuation orders and warnings have been issued due to growth of the Caldor Fire.

New evacuation orders include:

— From Twin Bridges to Echo Summit

— From U.S. Highway 50 south to Amador/Alpine County line

— From US 50 north to Flag Pole Peak

Evacuation warnings include:

— Christmas Valley from California State Route 89 west to Echo Summit

— Highway 89 due west to Watershed Ridge and south to the Amador/El Dorado County line

— Highway 89 south from Luther Pass Road to Picketts Junction

— West on Highway 88 to Kirkwood

A Red Cross evacuation shelter has been established in Gardnerville, Nev., at the Douglas County Community Center located at 1329 Waterloo Lane.

Visit to view the evacuation map.

Initially posted

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Caldor Fire grew by more than 10,000 acres overnight and now has burned 136,643 acres and is 12% contained.

As the blaze continues to march closer to the Lake Tahoe Basin, a shift in winds could provide some relief from smoke while also helping firefighters stop the spread on the eastern front.

The size of the blaze is now larger than the footprint for Lake Tahoe, officials said.

Officials said the fire continued to grow adjacent to U.S. Highway 50 and Twin Bridges due to up canyon winds and spotting. They say fuel conditions, steep and rugged terrain are presenting challenges.

Meteorologist Jim Dudley said there is a bit of good news for the next few days.

“The good news is we’re having a little change in the weather pattern,” Dudley said. “We are going to have much decreased … in fact, it’s almost going to stop southerly wind flow that’s been feeding into the fire area. Southwest and west winds are going to stop and we’re going to have very light winds aloft.”

The change in winds should push most of the smoke from Caldor to the south of US 50, the national Weather Service in Reno said. But they also mentioned the shift in winds could bring more smoke into the basin from the record-setting Dixie Fire that has burned 742,724 acres to the northwest and is 45% contained.

The fire reached the dozier line on Packsaddle Road on Wednesday night and U.S. Forest Service Incident Commander Ben Newburn said during the Wednesday evening briefing that they were going to start a technical fire operation that would test “our fire fighting abilities,” to try and stop the spread to the east.

“We’re going to be involved in some very complex fire fighting activities, particularly on the east side of the fire with some of our very technical firing operations,” Newburn said.

Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Eric Schwab said stopping spread to the east is one of the most critical priorities on the fire and stopping it with the current dozer line at Packsaddle is the “last easy option.”

Officials said they are dealing with a fire spotting distance of ¾ of a mile and are hoping that changes with the calming winds.

The map on InciWeb Incident Information System shows spotting beyond the dozer line at Packsaddle and possible near Cody Lake, east of Strawberry Creek.

Officials said crews have prepared California State Route 88 with 300 feet of fuel break on both sides of the road.

Cal fire officials also addressed the expected full containment date of Aug. 31 they have listed on InciWeb and said there is now way it will be contained by then. But he added that “we’re starting to gain ground on this fire.”

Officials said more resources are joining the battle, while also admitting they might lose some resources to a fire that recently broke out in Calaveras County.

Total personnel working on the fire from the ground and air is 2,897, including 243 engines, 27 water tenders, 18 helicopters, 80 hand crews and 51 dozers.

There are also numerous firefighting air tankers from throughout the state that are flying fire suppression missions as conditions allow.

There are no evacuation warnings or orders for the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Bill Rozak is the Editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun. He can be reached

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