Fire officials unsure when Hwy 50 will be safe to open
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The Caldor Fire has reached 50% containment since it began on August 14, but there is still too much risk moving forward for the reopening of Highway 50, according to Cal Fire officials.
Due to a large amount of hazards on the road, including severely damaged trees, hot spots, and the potential for spot fires, the highway has not been opened. Priorities in the area have moved to securing the containment line and buildings in the area, along with removing these hazardous objects from the highway corridors.
“We don’t have a timeline for that area to open up,” said Cal Fire officials.
Along with having to remove the hazards in order to reopen the road as soon as possible, officials said the weather may not be in favor of preventing spot fires in the area.
Conditions are subject to change this week as a heat wave is set to hit the area, raising temperatures and the risk of the fire spreading. High winds and thunderstorms also increase chances for the potential of spotting in drier areas that are at risk for burning.
Crews will continue to work along Hwy 50 to clear these zones until they feel it is safe to repopulate in the coming days. Night crews are monitoring and maintaining the handline that allows the day shift to continue aggressively combating the fire as they attempt to make influential gains every day.
Daily updates can be found on Inciweb’s website at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7801/. Additionally, Cal Fire hosts daily Facebook Live updates at 7 a.m., and Community Zoom Meetings at 5 p.m., providing the public with up-to-date information about the progress in containing the Caldor Fire.
For those who are looking for a comprehensive map of what areas are still under evacuation order versus warning, El Dorado Sheriffs Office has created a map outlining the specifications. It can be found on their site at
The growing curiosity as to when the highway will open again comes as evacuation orders in El Dorado County and Douglas County were downgraded to warnings earlier this week, sending many back home, unsure if the warning will be upgraded again.
Evacuation orders are still placed in Meyers, as well as South of Mormon Emigrant Trail to Hwy 88, and West on Hwy 88 to Hams Station.
As residents are eager to get back home, they’re also understanding of the tireless efforts from firefighters to completely secure the area before removing any orders.
President of Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Carol Chaplin is optimistic about the next few days for the basin, but is still warning potential visitors that the city is not out of the woods yet.
“The containment thus far on the Caldor Fire within the South Lake Tahoe area has been nothing short of miraculous,” said Chaplin. “Our heartfelt gratitude to the firefighters, first responders and agencies on the ground… We are a resilient community and businesses are already working on re-opening plans; however, currently, U.S. Highway 50 is not accessible into South Shore, evacuation warnings/orders are still in place, public lands remain closed, and air quality, while improving, is still not at desirable levels.”
LTVA’s Destination Updates page has the latest information on when it is safe to travel back to the basin for recreation activities.
To mitigate travel and prevent human-made fires, along with many other reasons, the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region has temporarily closed all National Forests in California. Earlier this month, Nevada State Parks also shut down multiple sites due to smoke, including Sand Harbor and Spooner Lake. The parks will remain closed until Sept. 17.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.