Caldor Fire burns over 65K acres, threatens thousands of homes, little progress made, authorities say
Special to the Sierra Sun
UPDATE Thursday 7:38 a.m.:
The Caldor Fire grew to 65,474 acres and is 0% contained as of Thursday morning, according to Cal Fire.
The Caldor Fire in El Dorado County continued to rage Wednesday with few signs of slowing down, as high winds combined with unusually dry conditions helped fuel the blaze, authorities say.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Caldor Fire had burned nearly 54,000 acres and was zero percent contained, according to a release issued by Cal Fire’s Amador-El Dorado unit.
Over 5,000 people in El Dorado County have been evacuated since the blaze started Saturday, with two civilians injured and numerous structures damaged or destroyed, according to Cal Fire Public Information Officer Chris Vestal.
An exact number of homes destroyed has not been determined, and the current condition of the two injured people was not available, Vestal said. Roughly 6,000 structures are currently threatened by the blaze, according to Cal Fire’s release.
“The communities in proximity to the Caldor Fire experienced multiple evacuations (Tuesday) due to the fast-moving fire,” a release states. “Some structures were damaged or destroyed. Structure assessment teams will be evaluating these areas as soon as it is safe for them to do so.”
The level of damage caused by the Caldor Fire so far could be even greater than the latest numbers available, as the wildfire’s particularly fast expansion has made it difficult to precisely assess the amount of acreage burned or structures destroyed, authorities said.
Unusually dry temperatures for this time of the year, combined with high winds coming from the southeast, have hampered firefighter’s response to the blaze, Vestal said. El Dorado County typically doesn’t experience the current levels of dryness until October, making the region more vulnerable to a rapidly expanding wildfire such as this one.
“We’re two months ahead of schedule, in terms of the fact that we typically wouldn’t experience this kind of dry weather until October or so, around the same time that it often starts to rain,” Vestal said.
“You throw in that we’re in a red flag area, with 10% humidity — which is extremely low — and you add in the wind, and this is a very volatile situation.”
On a positive note, Vestal said that some progress had been made Wednesday in slowing down the fire’s forward progress, with Cal Fire being able to establish something resembling a perimeter around the fire, although he said it would be premature to call this a containment line until more progress is made.
Authorities expect to have the fire fully contained by Aug. 31, based on current estimates, Cal Fire’s release states.
Vestal said that the Caldor blaze highlights the importance of residents in El Dorado County and other communities being over-prepared for evacuation orders when fires are threatening, and he urged residents to continually monitor websites that notify the community as to the progress of given fires. In El Dorado County, locals should keep an eye on the county’s CodeRED emergency notification service, which Vestal said is comparable to the Community Haven website that Nevada County relies on.
“One thing I would emphasize in all of this is just the importance of being prepared for evacuations…It’s just essential for everybody, regardless of what county you’re in, to be receiving all of the updates from your local jurisdiction,” he said.
Stephen Wyer is a staff writer for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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