Caldor officials tell South Tahoe residents ‘don’t stress yet, stay informed’

Flames light up a tree trunk up Silver Fork Road near Kyburz Wednesday.<em id="emphasis-5d7dbba11873e7ef8a2387b87f0e1533"> (Thomas Frey / Mountain Democrat)</em>

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Despite new evacuation orders and warnings that impact some Meyers and Christmas Valley residents, officials say not to worry, but to stay informed.

The Caldor Fire grew overnight by more than 4,000 acres and is at 143,941 acres and 12% contained as of Friday morning.

The blaze has grown larger than the footprint of Lake Tahoe.

It is still growing to the northeast, pressuring Lake Tahoe, said Cal Fire Public Information Officer Henry Herrera. But he added that residents shouldn’t worry too much, for now.

“The fire is still about 10 miles away from Meyers and 12-14 miles away from South Lake Tahoe so there’s no need to worry or stress out too much yet,” Herrera told the Tribune Thursday afternoon. “Just remain informed and follow all orders. Rest assured that the majority of resources we have are being placed on the northeast edge to keep it from getting to Tahoe.”

Evacuation warnings were issued Thursday for Christmas Valley from California State Route 89 west to Echo Summit; California State Route 89 due west to Watershed Ridge and south to the Amador/El Dorado County line and from Highway 89 south from Luther Pass Road to Picketts Junction.

Evacuation orders were issued for Echo Summit to the Twin Bridges area, from U.S. Highway 50 south to Amador/Alpine County line and from US 50 north to Flag Pole Peak.

Echo Summit is where firefighters plan to make their stand if the Caldor Fire keeps burning through dense forest in the Sierra Nevada, said an Associated Press report.

“Everything’s holding real good along Highway 50,” said Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Cody Bogan. “The fire has been backing down real slowly … we’ve just been allowing it to do it on its own speed. It’s working in our favor.”

Warnings mean that residents should get prepared and stay up to date on what’s happening with the fire and orders mean you must go. There are no orders issued yet for Tahoe residents.

A Red Cross evacuation shelter has been established in Gardnerville, Nev., at the Douglas County Community Center located at 1329 Waterloo Lane.

Residents can view the evacuation map online at

El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Eric Palmberg recommended those under warnings use that time to prepare.

“We suggest you make use of that time,” Palmberg said.

That means gathering clothing, medications and other essential items, as well as making a plan for animals in need of care.

Residents in need of transportation should make arrangements with family, friends or neighbors, or call 911 for assistance.

“We will do what we can to get you out safely,” Palmberg said.

Despite the extended evacuation warnings and orders, fire officials struck a positive note during its Thursday evening briefing in its fight against the fire that started Aug. 14 for unknown reasons.

Operations Section Chief Cody Bogan said crews achieved success in holding the fire lines over the past 24 hours, particularly on the west side of the blaze as well as along the US 50 corridor, where the main spread was along the north side of the highway near the Strawberry community.

Firefighters on Thursday battled wind driven fire along US 50 in Strawberry.

Up-canyon winds triggered several spot fires on the fire’s east side, but for the most part the fire has stayed within the main bulldozer lines plowed to slow the incident’s reach, officials said.

“The crews are making good progress right now, and we’re getting around those spots,” Bogan said.

Total personnel battling the blaze from the air and ground has risen to 3,204, including 250 engines, 63 water tenders, 25 helicopters, 82 hand crews and 71 dozers. Numerous air tanker missions are also flying suppression missions as conditions allow.

The fire has destroyed 469 residences, 11 commercial properties and 170 other minor structures since its start. Cal Fire reported two civilian injuries but no fatalities as of Thursday evening.

“We are full throttle. Our folks are on the ground each and every day in each and every one of these communities,” Incident Commander Dusty Martin said during Cal Fire’s daily online briefing. “One of our top priorities is to get citizens back into their communities, and we are working tirelessly to make that happen.”

Officials expect to reach full containment of the blaze by Sept. 8.

The Mountain Democrat contributed to this report.

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