Caldor Fire grows to more than 105K acres, 5% contained |

Caldor Fire grows to more than 105K acres, 5% contained

Krysten Kellum
Mountain Democrat

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Caldor Fire has burned 106,562 acres as of Monday morning from Grizzly Flat to Kyburz, destroying more than 340 structures since it started eight days ago.

Cal Fire officials on Sunday night reported 5% containment of the blaze.

The Caldor Fire has surpassed the 2014 King Fire, which scorched almost 98,000 acres just to the northwest of where Caldor now sits.

Damage assessment teams have upped the number of single residences destroyed to 403. There are 26 damaged structures and six commercial properties and 148 minor structures that have been destroyed

U.S. Forest Service Operations Section Chief Will Harris gave a briefing Sunday on operations around the entire perimeter of the blaze.

“Today we had some fire in the Middle Fork of the Cosumnes River make a run up to Caldor Road to the north and we are actively engaged in there, utilizing air tankers … and rotar wing and ground personnel to keep this fire south of Caldor Road,” said Harris.

Harris reported that the fire is holding along Mormon Emigrant Trail to Highway 50. “Not much movement there,” Harris said.

“We did have some spots in there yesterday and we are having some success to keep that put down.”

In the Camp Creek area, Harris said fire has been established for “quite some time,” and that on Sunday firefighters laid some back burns to “stay ahead of (the fire) … and keep (it) from impacting Mormon Emigrant Trail.”

“We will continue to keep the fire east of Sly Park Road and out of the Pollock Pines area using some control features we have built along Sly Park Road,” he continued.

Firefighters say they saw the most fire growth Sunday to the northeast and along Highway 50.

A spot fire crossed north of Highway 50 Saturday, something fire crews were trying to prevent.

“We did get a spot fire above Kyburz and we have folks engaged … as well as attempting to get containment lines around that,” Harris said, adding that there was a “little bit” of growth there to the east Sunday afternoon in what he described as “tough country.”

He said Incident Command is utilizing all available resources to “wrangle that thing in,” but air assets were unable to respond due to smoke laying down over the area.

South of Kyburz fire crews are building hand and dozer lines at Packsaddle Pass. On the southeast side of the Caldor Fire visibility allowed air tankers to “paint that edge (with retardant) and keep that pinned down,” Harris said.

Slowed activity in that area of the blaze will buy firefighters time to build containment lines ahead of the fire “and prepare for action in the next 24-48 hours.”

There are no evacuation warnings or orders in place for South Lake Tahoe residents, including those in Meyers and Christmas Valley.

A fire officials told the Tahoe Tribune on Sunday morning that residents don’t need to be worried at this time.

On the fire’s southwestern perimeter fire crews are seeing less fire activity. “We have been mopping up, reinforcing that line on the south end and things are holding well,” said Harris.

Cal Fire Incident Commander Dusty Martin joined Sunday’s briefing to share a fire weather forecast. “Tonight we expect to see the down-canyon winds again. That means coming from the east side and pushing down,” he explained. “(The winds) are going to be light, no real gusts of wind; they are going to be downslope at 2-6 mph.”

He said Monday’s weather is expected to bring low humidity and a wind shift blowing again from the southwest. “Anywhere in the 9-10 o’clock hour we should see that switch … with gusts of up to 13 mph.”

The Caldor Fire incident meteorologist expects this weather pattern to be consistent over the next couple of days.

Martin said he does not expect Highway 50 to reopen in the near future. “As the fire comes through we’ve got trees and damage to the roadway surfaces and we need to make sure that’s all safe and that fire isn’t going to impinge the highway (with) traffic flowing through there,” he said.

Gaining containment of the Caldor Fire is taking time.

U.S. Forest Service Incident Commander Ben Newburn said firefighters are doing mop-up to reduce threats to containment lines in the southwest corner of the fire.

“We’ve been working at that some time and we continue to see heat pop up and give us threats to the line across the line that causes us to build new fire lines,” he said.

Firefighters are now applying fire retardant by ground as well as by air.

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