Caldor growth slows; Firefighters brace for critical fire weather
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Caldor Fire growth slowed on Saturday due to calm winds and officials are “attacking it with everything they have” to keep flames away from the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The fire expanded by less than 3,000 acres on Saturday and burned another 4,000 overnight as the inversion layer lifted and winds became more active. The fire has burned 156,515 acres as of Sunday morning. Containment remains at 19%, but there is no containment on the eastern edge as flames chew through dry timber and steep, rugged terrain and is within about 5 or 6 miles of Meyers and 7-8 miles away from South Lake Tahoe, according to officials on Saturday.
What winds the fire itself created spit embers out in front of the blaze causing firefighters to chase down spot fires.
“We’re attacking it with everything we have,” said one of Cal Fire’s incident commanders, Dusty Martin, during Saturday evening’s briefing.
The fire has blanketed the basin in a toxic layer of smoke for the past several days, although conditions were somewhat improved on Saturday, but ash continued to fall from the sky.
Operation Section Chief Cody Bogan said near U.S. Highway 50 firefighters are working on primary lines and patrolling. On the northside of US 50 near Kyburz firefighters are working on dozer lines to bring the fire back down to the highway.
“In Division Juliet troops are in a firefight right now, as we speak,” Bogan said Saturday evening.
Division J is on the eastern flank.
Firefighters will have part of Sunday to further suppress the blaze before strong winds return to the area.
The National Weather Service on Sunday morning issued a red flag warning for gusty winds and low humidity that goes into effect at 2 p.m. Monday and last through Tuesday evening.
The Tribune incorrectly said the service issued a warning on Saturday when it was just a fire weather watch. But a day later, the warning for critical fire danger was issued.
Winds are expected to come from the southwest at about 15-20 mph which would further push the fire towards Tahoe. Higher gusts of about 35 mph are expected over exposed terrain and up to 50 mph for ridgetops.
Winds are expected to reach up to 15 mph on Sunday.
Officials reported that a third fire responder has suffered injuries in the fight to suppress the blaze.
A Galt police officer lost his life in a car crash responding to the incident a couple of days ago which could be considered a fourth injury.
Overall, 18,347 structures are threatened, 471 single residences have been destroyed, 39 structures damaged, 11 commercial properties have been lost and another 170 minor structures have been burned
The amount of personnel on the fire continues to grow with 3,352 battling the blaze from the ground and air, including 306 engines, 78 water tenders, 25 helicopters, 74 hand crews and 76 dozers.
Even more resources are expected to arrive soon from the Department of Defense, the U.S. Forest Service announced Saturday.
The DoD is sending 200 U.S. Army soldiers from Washington state and equipment including eight U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft to help firefighters in Northern California. The soldiers are expected to arrive in California in early September after a week-long training. The C-130s have been converted into air tankers that can dump thousands of gallons of water on the flames.
Officials have tenuously set Sept. 8 as the full containment date.
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