Caldor crews divert to Rubicon blaze, prepare for strong winds

Mountain Democrat Staff Report
Orange fire retardant surrounds a fire that sparked Saturday near Ellicott Bridge and the Rubicon River.
Provided/U.S. Forest Service

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Firefighters assigned to the Caldor Fire assisted with a 7-acre blaze off 11 Pines Road near the Rubicon River Saturday.

Hand crews, engines and water tenders were sent into the area to fully contain the fire that is burning north of Wentworth Springs Road between Georgetown and Ice House Road on the 2014 King Fire burn scar.

Officials said Sunday night crews have stopped forward spread of the fire, and will continue initial attack until the fire is fully contained.

On the Caldor Fire fire crews spent Saturday evening locating and extinguishing heat sources along U.S. Highway 50. Fire personnel also reportedly monitored hot spots along Highway 88 near Carson Spur and “took action where safe to do so,” according to a joint news release from lead agencies California Incident Management Team 12 and the U.S. Forest Service.

Firefighters are keeping an eye on the weather with a red flag warning forecast for the region. Out of the Pacific, the front is expected to arrive Sunday and by Monday afternoon southwesterly winds could produce gusts between 30 and 40 mph and up to 50 to 60 mph on ridgetops.

“Firefighters are aware of the risk of spotting, where winds carry hot embers long distances and cause fires outside control lines,” officials said. “Crews are preparing for rapid response to spot fires during the high wind event. Incident command is coordinating with Cal Fire and local municipal agencies to place additional resources in tactical patrol within the Lake Tahoe Basin and in the Placerville areas.

The Caldor Fire’s most active areas remain in the Desolation Wilderness north of U.S. 50 and at Tragedy Springs and Sayles Canyon north of Highway 88.

Firefighters are connecting handline in rugged, granite terrain in Desolation Wilderness and will build on gains made to eliminate dry fuel.

Near Tragedy Springs fire officials say dry surface fuels are contributing to flareups but crews continue to secure a containment line there.

Heavy fuels continue to retain heat across Caldor. Needle cast and other falling debris are adding new fuels, contributing to creeping flames and smoldering within the fire’s footprint, according to fire officials.

The Caldor Fire, which first sparked Aug. 14 near Omo Ranch, has burned 221,774 acres. Containment has held at 76% since Sept. 20, according to U.S. Forest Service data.

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