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CALDOR FIRE: Still 98% contained; snow hastens repair work

A sign outside a South Lake Tahoe Fire Station welcomes residents back to town after the...
A sign outside a South Lake Tahoe Fire Station welcomes residents back to town after the lifting of the evacuation order Monday, Sept. 6, 2021, due to the Caldor fire. (AP Photo/Samuel Metz)(Samuel Metz | AP)
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 1:43 PM PDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2021 at 12:17 PM PDT
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EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KOLO) - OCT. 17 10 A.M. The Caldor Fire remains 98 percent contained at 221,835 acres.

Snow is expected Sunday night into Monday at the higher elevations and significant precipitation is expected throughout the fire area.

Strong winds are expected in advance of that and that could spread flames as warmer temperatures reduced fuel moisture to critical levels.

In anticipation of snow, crews were working to finish as much repair work as possible at higher elevations before moving to lower elevations.

So far 42 percent of fire lines create to stop the fire have been repaired. Almost 200 miles of fire line is left to repair.

The cause of the Caldor Fire remains under investigation.

OCT. 9 9:30 A.M. Containment on the Caldor Fire reached 98 percent. The fire is 221,775 acres.

The fire area received six hours of light rain on Friday morning. The moisture means there is a chance for black ice Saturday night on the paved roads.

Hot spots remain on the fire. The area is still classified as being in an extreme drought.

There are 1,071 personnel on the fire.

The U.S. Forest Service asked people not to fly drones in the area because it keeps firefighting aircraft out of the air.

OCT. 6 5:30 P.M. The Caldor Fire is 221,775 acres and 93 percent contained.

The last livestreamed community update was Wednesday at 5 p.m. Incident meteorologist Derek Williams said temperatures will cool and up to a half-inch of rain is expected in the area Thursday night and Friday morning. Snow could also fall, with the snow level dropping to 7,000 feet by Saturday morning.

Another cold system moves into the area Monday and Tuesday with the snow level dropping to 6,000 feet and several inches of snow could accumulate.

Smoke from Southern California fires is not pushing into the Lake Tahoe basin and there should be a week or more of clean air.

There are no major threats to the fire containment line and many of the uncontained line is area that is not accessible.

Gwen Sanchez, forest supervisor for the El Dorado National Forest, thanked the community for its support.

“Day 53. Wow. I am absolutely amazed about what we have gone through,” Sanchez said.

OCT. 4 2:40 P.M. The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office has lifted all remaining Evacuation Warnings and Orders that were issued over the Caldor Fire.

There are still fire crews in the area, so drivers need to yield to fire vehicles.

OCT. 3 5:20 P.M. The Caldor Fire is 93 percent contained and 221,775 acres as it entered its 50th day, the U.S. Forest Service reported Sunday during a Caldor Fire community meeting.

Smoke in the Lake Tahoe Basin will be unhealthy for sensitive groups to unhealthy for everyone Monday and possibly into Tuesday. However, that is not from the Caldor Fire. That is from the KNP Complex east of Visalia.

Smoke from that fire helped decrease burning on the Caldor Fire on Sunday, Operations Section Chief Matt Ahearn said.

“Overall, it’s looking well,” Ahearn said.

“The fire is starting to wane, even if the smoke is heavy,” Incident Commander Mike Wakoski said.

Gwen Sanchez, forest supervisor, for the El Dorado National Forest, said the fire effort is making a transition from suppression to long-term stabilization and recovery.

“I am starting so see some light at the end of the tunnel,” Sanchez said.

The community meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 6, will be the last unless conditions change.

SEPT. 29 8:15 P.M. The order that closed the El Dorado National Forest due to the Caldor Fire has been lifted effective Thursday and replaced by the Caldor Fire closure, which involves a smaller area.

But those areas not closed due to the Caldor Fire will be open for day use only. No overnight camping. The full fire ban is also in effect.

The fire was reported to be 221,775 acres and 76 percent contained.

Some areas still have mandatory evacuations and others are under evacuation warnings. Incident Commander Mike Wakoski said fire officials hope to “turn the page” on evacuations and will discuss that during another meeting on Thursday.

The weather system brought lighter winds but warmer temperatures during the days and that should continue through the weekend.

SEPT. 27, 11:30 A.M. A Red Flag Warning is in effect in the Caldor Fire area until Tuesday, Sept. 28. Southwesterly gusts along the ridgetops are expected to peak between 40 and 60 mph by late Monday evening.

Officials expect fire behavior to intensify with the increasing winds, leading to an increase in smoke in the Lake Tahoe area.

A daily community meeting will be held online Monday at 5 p.m.

SEPT. 26, 4 P.M. The Caldor Fire is 221,774 acres and 76 percent contained.

Fire crews expect higher winds to test fire lines on Sunday night into Monday. Gusts could reach 40 mph. Crews used burning to eliminate fuels that would have helped the fire spread due to winds.

There are smaller fires near the Caldor Fire that got crews sent from the Caldor Fire to keep them from getting larger.

SEPT. 24, 5:20 P.M. The evacuation order for the Heavenly Ski Resort has been downgraded to a warning. It applies for the areas east of Pioneer Trail to the Alpine County line and the Nevada state line.

The Caldor Fire was 221,505 acres on Friday and 76 percent contained.

Fire crews had a big day Thursday removing dead and downed fuel in the southwest corner of the fire and that decreased the chance of the fire spreading.

The Desolation Wilderness area also has uncontained fire that has been difficult to fight because it is not accessible.

There has been no significant fire movement towards the Christmas Valley area.

“Our position is looking more favorable and getting more favorable as the days go on,” Incident Commander Michael Nobles said a Friday’s Facebook community meeting.

SEPT. 23, 8:30 P.M. Crews used fire to reduce vegetation between the Margaret Lake and Strawberry Creek areas. This was to keep the fire from burning towards Christmas Valley and Alpine County. Crews will monitor those burn areas overnight.

The weather was hot and dry and led to several flare-ups. Crews were unable to find fires in the Desolation Wilderness area north of the Caldor Fire.

The fire is 221,161 acres and remains 76 percent contained.

SEPT. 22, 5:45 P.M. The Caldor Fire remains active and is not fully contained, fire officials said Wednesday evening.

During the daily Facebook community update, fire officials said steep rocks and terrain made progress difficult in some areas and there are still 65 miles of uncontained fire line, mostly on the eastern side.

The fires are particularly stubborn in the Desolation Wilderness and Caples Lake areas and after the Caples Lake fires picked up fire officials called for Hot Shot crews to arrive Thursday burn out areas where the fire is advancing to deprive it of fuel.

The latest developments caused the city of South Lake Tahoe to postpone its Welcome Back Tahoe, Honoring Our Heroes event scheduled for Saturday. No new date has been scheduled.

The fire continues to move east.

People who are in areas with evacuation warnings are asked to stay alert in case they need to evacuate quickly.

The Caldor Fire is 220,000 acres and 76 percent contained.

SEPT. 21, 10 A.M. The Caldor Fire is 76 percent contained and has burned 219,231 acres.

Fire crews have been dealing with challenging conditions in areas where there is uncontained fire due to steep and rocky terrain.

On Tuesday, crews will continue to secure and strengthen containment lines with water drops and retardant.

SEPT. 21, 8 A.M. Drivers can once again travel Highway 50 over Echo Summit.

For the first time since the Caldor Fire forced the closure of the highway from Kyburz to Meyers one month ago, the highway is open without restrictions.

The CalTrans traffic camera at Meyers shows traffic moving at the roundabout, where there had been a roadblock.

SEPT. 20, 8:55 A.M. Containment on the Caldor Fire has grown to 75 percent as of Monday morning.

Overnight, crews mopped up along the fire’s edge and improved containment lines from Scout Peak west to Mormon Emigrant Trail.

On Monday, firefighters plan to construct more containment lines, though the weather will continue to be a challenge as a Red Flag Warning remains in effect until 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The Highway 50 corridor partially reopened Monday morning to commerce and residents of private and damaged property only. Full reopening of the highway is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 8 a.m.

The fire has burned 219,101 acres.

SEPT. 18 1 P.M. The Caldor Fire remains 71 percent contained Saturday and is 218,876 acres.

Crews continue to strengthen lines as a weather front approaches that could push flames.

The low-pressure system moving through will have gusts to 45 mph on ridgetops. As much as .20 inches of rain could fall overnight.

SEPT. 17, 2:45 P.M. New mapping shows the Caldor Fire decreased in size, dropping a little more than 400 acres. According to officials, it has burned 218,857 acres and remains 71 percent contained.

Another community meeting will be held Friday evening at 5 p.m. You can join on Facebook or Zoom.

SEPT. 16, 7:45 P.M. The Caldor Fire remained 71 percent contained Thursday and is at 219,267 acres.

On the east side of the fire, conditions were slightly cooler Thursday. However, a Fire Weather Watch has been issued for Saturday due to high winds. Winds will also be high on Sunday, but there will be cooler temperatures and higher humidity on Sunday.

Crews again continuing checking for hot spots. There is still smoldering, but the fire’s spread has slowed in recent days.

SEPT. 16, 9:30 A.M. More evacuation orders were downgraded Thursday morning as crews continue to gain ground on the Caldor Fire.

The following evacuation orders have been downgraded to warnings in El Dorado County:

• South of Mormon Emigrant Trail to Highway 88 and west on Highway 88 to Hams Station.

• South of Highway 50 from Ice House Road to Silver Fork Road, to include the community of Kyburz and east of Mormon Emigrant Trail to Highway 88.

Evacuation warnings have been lifted in the following areas in Alpine County:

• (Zone 23) - Blue Lakes Rd. Upper Blue Lake, Burnside Lake & Rd.

- Forestdale Rd from Junction 88 to Upper Blue Lake

On Thursday, fire crews will continue to build containment on the fire by working west from Echo Lakes into Desolation Wilderness and continuing to construct line in the Trimmer Peak, Convict Meadows and Margaret Lake areas.

The fire remains at 219,267 acres with 71 percent containment.

SEPT. 15 8:30 P.M. Caldor Fire containment increased from 70 percent Wednesday morning to 71 percent Wednesday night. The fire remained 219,267 acres.

The weather was warm ad dry on Wednesday and a fire weather watch is expected this weekend with the arrival of high winds and continued high temperatures and low humidity.

Fire crews focused Wednesday on uncontained lines northwest of Caples Lake near Sayles Canyon, where fire behavior has been calm and most uncontained areas have a slow rate of fire spread.

They also worked to improve fire containment lines in the Desolation Wilderness area.

SEPT. 15, 1:30 P.M. More evacuation warnings and orders have been lifted in El Dorado County as containment grows on the Caldor Fire.

The following evacuation orders have been downgraded to warnings:

• Caldor – From Plummer Ridge south through North South Road including the western portions of Cat Creek and Lower Cat Creek Road.

The following evacuation warnings have been lifted:

Fallen Leaf B - North Fallen Leaf Lake • Cascade Lake • Tahoe Mountain residents, extending west to the border of Desolation Wilderness and south of Highway 89 • Spring Creek residents from Cathedral Road extending west to the middle of Fallen Leaf Lake.

Pioneer - North of Elks Club along Highway 50 and the west side Pioneer Trail, excluding the residences west of the airport • All residences accessed from Hekpa Drive, Jicarilla Drive, Susquehana Drive, Washoan and Glen Eagles Road • Neighborhoods of Golden Bear, Cold Creek Trail, High Meadows, and Marshall Trail.

The fire has burned 219,267 acres and is 70 percent contained.

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