Increased Caldor Fire activity has officials warning communities ‘fight is not over’

Smoke is visible Tuesday from the Caldor Fire. The photograph was taken from the Echo Summit area looking towards the Kirkwood area.
Bill Rozak/Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Officials on Wednesday gave a warning to local communities on the eastern edges of the Caldor Fire that it remains a threat.

Despite being 76% contained, officials said the 220,877-acre blaze has increased in activity due to low humidity and gusty southwest winds that could throw hot embers up to a mile creating a hotspot within the fire’s perimeter on dry fuels not yet burned.

“There are islands of unburned vegetation within the fire footprint and heavy fuels, such as tree stumps and downed logs, which continue to burn within the perimeter,” said a joint press release from the Forest Service and Cal Fire. “As dry and windy conditions continue, there is the potential for interior fire activity to release an ember that can travel up to a mile from its source. If an ember travels far enough and lands in a receptive fuel bed outside of containment lines, there is the probability for a spot fire to ignite.”

Officials specifically mentioned the Christmas Valley area, which remains under an evacuation warning, as an area of concern for hot embers due to prevailing winds.

In an effort to combat fire spread towards Christmas Valley, officials said hotshot crews are arriving to support a planned strategic firing operation on Thursday. There are 1,400 personnel still battling the blaze, way down from the more than 5,000 that were on the fire at its peak.

Bulldozers have widened the Schneider Camp 4X4 Trail as a break in the vegetation along the east side of the fire. Vegetation will be cleared along the fire side of the trail in preparation for the firing operation.

Removing vegetation will allow the crews to introduce low intensity ground fire which will remove available vegetation ahead of the main fire, said the release.

For the past several weeks, crews have been working in the Convict Meadow, Lake Margaret, and Caples Drainage areas to construct a handline near the fires edge. Steep, rocky terrain has made progress slow as personnel work with hand tools to clear vegetation between natural barriers. The recent increase in fire activity in that area has led incident managers to engage in alternate strategies and tactics to contain the fire with direct containment remaining the primary goal.

Officials reminded residents in communities still under an evacuation warning to be vigilant and mindful, stay informed and that the “fight is not over.”

“If you are in an area under an evacuation warning, stay informed on the latest weather and fire conditions as the situation can change quickly,” said the release. “If an evacuation is ordered, understand there is an imminent threat to your personal safety, and you should leave immediately.”

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

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