Caldor is top priority wildfire in US; Officials plan to keep it ‘long ways’ from Tahoe (Updated)
Special to the Sierra Sun
Update 8:45 a.m.
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Caldor Fire activity was moderate and grew more than thousand acres overnight, officials reported Tuesday morning.
The fire burning just southwest of the Lake Tahoe Basin is at 117,704 acres and 9% contained.
The southwest winds decreased and residents at Lake Tahoe can see blue skies and sun Tuesday morning, although the forecast from the National Weather Service in Reno calls for southwest to continue at about 10 mph through most of Thursday.
Airnow.gov is still showing that air quality is hazardous in the basin on Tuesday morning.
Officials said the fire made some significant runs in different areas but firefighters were able to engage in direct control due to calming fire behavior.
Officials added that spot fires broke out through the evening on the northeast flank, the edge closest to Tahoe.
The personnel fighting the blaze have jumped to 2,119. There are 212 engines, 26 water tenders, 22 helicopters, 50 hand crews, 51 dozers and numerous air tankers from throughout the state are flying suppression missions as conditions allow.
The number of single residences destroyed is up to 455, 11 commercial properties are gone, 166 minor structures have burned and 34 structures are damaged. The injuries remain at two.
Overall, 29,965 El Dorado County residents have been evacuated from their homes.
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Caldor Fire is the No. 1 priority wildfire in the country and firefighters are battling to keep flames from advancing on the northeastern front and into the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Officials on Monday during an evening briefing said it was a “huge priority” and “our ultimate goal” to keep fire away from Lake Tahoe.
The blaze that began 10 days ago on Aug. 14 from unknown circumstances has grown to 117,704 acres as of Tuesday morning. Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter said on social media that the Caldor Fire is the No. 1 priority fire in the United States.
The fire grew by 7,604 acres during the day on Monday, mostly on the northeastern front due to southwest winds.
Containment was advanced to 9%, from 5% on Sunday, and that is in the “heel” of the fire, the southern part, said Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Eric Schwab.
Schwab said that a spot fire has broken out beyond the eastern edge, that it grew at a fairly rapid pace to about 100 acres, but that favorable evening conditions would help suppress it.
“Late in the evening, I’m confident that fire behavior will calm down,” Schwab said. “It has not reached a decision point. This has become a huge priority to stop the eastern edge of the fire.”
Schwab added that all the cabins on Echo Summit have had personnel examining each one and getting them fire ready if needed.
If the fire continues to knock harder on Lake Tahoe’s door, Schwab said the plan is to construct the biggest possible dozer line he can to keep flames out of the basin. Schwab went to the map and said the line would go from Mormon Emigrant Trail following Silverfork, all the way down the ridge system to U.S. Highway 50, which remains closed with no estimated reopening time.
“The fire is making a little push in that area, but we still have a couple of miles before it (the fire) reaches my proposed dozer line.”
Cal Fire Incident Commander Dusty Martin addressed air quality in response to a question and said as long as there is active fire there will be smoke issues.
The southwestern winds are expected to continue until at least Thursday afternoon when the National Weather Service in Reno says the winds will shift to a northwest direction.
Martin also said he is having discussion with South Lake Tahoe officials and looking at long-range planning. He said the intention is to not let it get much closer to the basin and the discussions are if the fire can’t be stopped.
“Our intention is to keep the fire a long way from there,” Martin said. “I want to assure you it is our ultimate goal to keep it out of there.”
A Cal Fire official reminded Tahoe residents there are no evacuation warnings or orders issued for South Lake Tahoe, which includes Meyers and Christmas Valley.
Bill Rozak is the Editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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