Fire crews ‘chasing down’ spot fire on Wright’s Lake Road |

Fire crews ‘chasing down’ spot fire on Wright’s Lake Road

Thomas Frey
Mountain Democrat
A spot fire burns along Wright's Lake Road North of U.S. Highway 50. (Provided / Cal Fire)

The Caldor Fire has burned 126,566 acres and is 12% contained, according to the latest information from fire officials.

Firefighters are battling a 700-acre spot fire in the area around Wright’s Lake Road, north of U.S. Highway 50, according to Eric Schwab, Cal Fire operations section chief.

“We’re currently trying to get containment on that now,” Schwab said. “The west side of it and the north side of it are fairly secure right now, but again we are kind of chasing this one down. “It’s spreading lateral, the winds will start to taper off tonight and I’m confident we’ll get dozer lines around that.”

Fire crews conducted firing operations Tuesday night south of Sly Park Road that went “better than expected,” Schwab said.

“They completely closed the box. They started on both sides of the canyon on the Omo side and up off of Grizzly and burned all the way down into the Middle Fork of the Cosumnes River (Canyon) and up the other side,” Schwab said.

He said hand crews were at Sly Park trying to piece that (containment effort) together Wednesday with bulldozing and back burning that will happen overnight.

“If this is successful, it will reduce the complexity of this firing operation and it will reduce the amount of time we need to be working in there,” Schwab said.

There will be a change in winds over the next three days, according to incident meteorologist Jim Dudley.

“The good news is we’re having a little change in the weather pattern,” Dudley said. “We are going to have much decreased … in fact, it’s almost going to stop southerly wind flow that’s been feeding into the fire area. Southwest and west winds are going to stop and we’re going to have very light winds aloft.”

Fire behavior analyst Steve Volmer said that will help get a lot more resources in safely. Volmer said the very dense stands of timber, trees more than 40 inches in diameter and a lot of materials like heavy dead and down fuels have been causing control issues.

“Those dead and down materials are very receptive, they are extremely dry,” Volmer said.

He said once more resources are in, they will be able to affect a lot more direct line control.

Ben Newburn, the unified incident commander for the U.S. Forest Service, said the next few days will be very critical to pushing the containment percentage up.

“We’re going to be involved in some very complex firefighting activities, particularly on the east side of the fire with some of our very technical firing operations,” Newburn explained.

“Then also some of the work we’re doing out in the west side of the fire … you’re going to see some smoke in the air, possibly, you’re going to see a lot of fire equipment moving around, but let me assure you we are working together to bring a successful end to this incident.

“The next few days are going to certainly be a test of our firefighting abilities, and certainly are going to present some opportunities for us to get some solid success on the spire, and start getting some containment.”

At Wednesday evening’s Caldor Fire public information meeting, an evacuee asked law enforcement liaison Eric Lee how someone would get prescription medications they left in their home.

“The best way to do that is to contact the American Red Cross,” Lee said. “They will be happy to be able to help you out with that and get you whatever you need.”

Lee was also asked how an evacuee will know it’s time they can return home. About 24,500 El Dorado County residents are currently evacuated, according to the California Office of Emergency Services.

He said public information officers will work together to get messaging coming out so people can return home once the fire has been eradicated in an area or it’s no longer an emergency ingress-egress route for fire apparatus and it’s safe.

The fire began south of Grizzly Flat Aug. 14 and has since burned to the north and east all the way to US 50 and Silver Fork Road. Damage assessment teams as of Wednesday night have identified 465 homes and 11 commercial buildings that were destroyed.

The Caldor Fire currently threatens 17,488 structures with about 2,900 firefighting personnel assigned to the incident.

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