Caldor active on eastern edge; Fire at about 150k acres, 19% contained

Firefighters try to keep the fire away from Strawberry on Friday. (Provided / Cal Fire)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — More containment was established on Friday, but the Caldor Fire continues to burn actively and aggressively on its east side.

Firefighters dealt with low visibility and up-canyon winds that increased spotting and fire runs on the northern edge as the blaze grew 4,000 acres overnight and is at 149,684 acres as of Saturday morning. Containment also grew to 19% on Friday evening and no change was reported Saturday morning.

Friday marked an “extremely smoky day” for the incident, limiting fire firefighters’ visibility to just 50 to 100 feet for much of the day and, in some areas, hampering their ability to detect spot fires, said Dusty Martin, Cal Fire unified incident commander.

The Caldor Fire burns along both sides of U.S. Highway 50 as firefighters work to stop its eastward spread in Eldorado National Forest, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 26,. (AP Photo /Noah Berger)

The additional “blacklines” of containment have been established on the south edge and officials say more containment is likely on Saturday.

Flames jumped over control lines at Wrights Lake Road on Thursday and ran up to the 7,500-foot elevation line there burning through “extremely critical fuels,” said Eric Schwab, Cal Fire operations section chief.

Schwab said crews have established multiple dozer lines at Strawberry Creek and planned burning operations Friday night from the eastern edge to U.S. Highway 50.

Scwab said the goal was to not let fire get to Strawberry and Camp Sacramento.


If the fire jumps those lines, Schwab pointed to the map during the Friday evening briefing and said Echo Summit would be the last stand to keep it out of the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The fire’s eastern edge was about 7 or 8 miles from the city of South Lake Tahoe, said Robert Baird, a U.S. Forest Service director of fire and aviation management.

“That area has been a focus of intense resource and concern for all of us,” he said.

Primary and secondary fire lines cut by bulldozers, hand crews and burnout operations were in place to try to catch the fire before it reaches South Lake Tahoe, he said.

Evacuation planning was being done as a precaution, but there were no evacuations there as of Friday afternoon.

Full containment is expected Sept. 8, but that estimate seems tenuous.

“I think that’s going to be assessed on a day-by-day basis,” said Keith Wade, a spokesman for the incident management team.

While the winds have been calm over the last couple of days, the National Weather Service in Reno on Saturday morning issued a red flag warning for Lake Tahoe that goes into effect Monday afternoon and lasts through Tuesday evening.

Southwest winds are expected to be around 15 to 20 mph and possibly up to 50 mph along exposed terrain and ridgetops.

There have been two injuries to first responders and two civilian injuries. One of the injuries was for a Galt Police Officer, Harminder Grewal, who died in a head-on collision while responding to the help with the fire.

Total personnel on the fire is 3,173, including 269 engines, 74 water tenders, 25 helicopters, 79 hand crews and 70 dozers.

This undated photo released by the Galt Police Department shows Officer Harminder Grewal. Grewal died late Thursday, Aug. 26, of injuries suffered in a collision Sunday on Highway 99 near Dillard Road as he and his partner traveled to assist with the Caldor Fire in El Dorado County. (Galt Police Department via AP)
Firefighters prepare to defend structures in Strawberry on Friday. (Provided / Cal Fire)
While battling the Caldor fire, firefighters burn vegetation to create a control line along Highway 50 in Eldorado National Forest, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 26. (AP Photo / Noah Berger)
While battling the Caldor Fire, a firefighter sprays water as crews burn vegetation to create a control line along Highway 50 in Eldorado National Forest, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 26. (AP Photo / Noah Berger)

Editor’s note: The Associated Press contributed to this report

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