September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Caldor Fire burns area larger than city of Sacramento, part of Highway 50 closed

Wildfire Watch

The Latest – Saturday. Aug. 21

8:19 a.m.

Highway 50 remains closed Saturday between Sly Park Road in Pollock and Myers. No estimated time of opening was released.

Friday, Aug. 20

7:34 p.m.

The Caldor Fire has burned 75,845 acres and remains at 0%.

5:30 p.m.

New evacuation orders were issued: Silver Fork Road in Kyburz east to Twin Bridges; North and south in a line extending from Twin Bridges to the Placer County line and south to the Amador County line.

There were also new evacuation warnings: From the evacuation order line in Twin Bridges east to the Echo Summit and from Highway 50 south to the Amador and Alpine county lines and north to the Placer County Line; for the Dry Lakes section, “this section is north of Wentworth Springs Road up to the Placer County line and the remaining section of El Dorado County south of Placer County to Loon Lake.

3:30 p.m.

The California Highway Patrol says Highway 50 will be shut down between Sly Park Road and the community of Myers at 4:30 p.m.

The closure comes as new evacuations were ordered between Sly Park and the community of Strawberry.

EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL/AP) — Fire crews are battling the Caldor Fire in the El Dorado National Forest, which quickly exploded in size over the week. 

The U.S. Forest Service said the fire began 4 miles south of Grizzly Flats and 2 miles east of Omo Ranch Saturday. By Friday morning, the Caldor Fire was 73,415 — over 114 square miles — acres and 0% contained.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Click or tap here to see the current fire perimeter.

More than 23,000 residents in El Dorado and Amador counties have been ordered and warned to evacuate as the fast-moving flames move through the area. 

At least 104 structures have been destroyed by the fire. Nearly 7,000 structures remain threatened.

Images show homes and cars near Forest View Drive and Grizzly Flats Road reduced to melted rubble and ash. Structure loss was also reported in Leoni Meadows.

Houses in Grizzly Flats were reduced to smoldering ash and twisted metal with only chimneys rising above the ruins. A post office and Walt Tyler Elementary School were also destroyed.

“We know this fire has done things that nobody could have predicted, but that’s how firefighting has been in the state this year,” El Dorado National Forest Supervisor Chief Jeff Marsolais said at a briefing Wednesday.

Cal Fire reported two civilians were severely injured overnight into Tuesday morning in Grizzly Flats.

For online resources and the latest information on evacuation orders, click or tap here.

Officials have announced an emergency closure of the Eldorado National Forest. Forest Service officials out of the Lake Tahoe Basin said backcountry areas of Desolation Wilderness, Meiss County, Barker Park and McKinney/Rubicon are closed until Sept. 19.

Fire crews said the fire is burning in challenging terrain, making access difficult. 

“There’s significant topography challenges out in these areas, with different canyons and drainage areas where the winds can shift causing issues for us,” Captain Keith Wade with the Sacramento Fire Department told FOX40. “So our firefighters need to remain safe out in this wildland arena.”

Fire officials said they got an unexpected break Thursday but were concerned about the wind picking up Thursday evening.

A lot of Thursday’s fire fighting efforts were focused along Mormon Emigrant Trail. Crews did their best to control the flames, but their biggest concern is keeping the fire away from Highway 50.

Overnight into Friday, the fire was active with short-range spotting, Cal Fire said.

Officials emphasized the importance of following evacuation orders and warnings as soon as they’re given. 

“When the warnings occur, traffic trickles out of those communities,” California Highway Patrol Chief Mike Dust explained. “ When an order happens, that turns into traffic jams, and it becomes very difficult for people to escape.”

A map with current evacuation information can be found by clicking or tapping here.

Residents can sign up for their county’s CodeRed emergency alert system for evacuation information using the links below.

Evacuation information can also be found on the social media pages of local law enforcement.

The following locations have been listed as evacuation centers: 

  • Cameron Park Community Center at 2502 Country Club Drive in Cameron Park, CA, in El Dorado County [FULL]
  • Green Valley Church at 3500 Missouri Flat Road in Placerville, CA, in El Dorado County
  • Cold Springs Community Church at 2600 Cold Springs Road in Placerville, CA, in El Dorado County [Space for RVs and motorhomes available]
  • El Dorado Community Center at 6139 Pleasant Valley Road in El Dorado
  • Amador Fairgrounds at 18621 Sherwood Street in Plymouth, CA, in Amador County
  • Evelyn Bishop Hall at 701 CA 124 in Ione, CA, in Amador County
  • Rolling Hills Church at 800 White Rock Road in El Dorado Hills, CA, in El Dorado County

Families who need assistance sheltering small animals can contact the El Dorado County Animal Services at 530-621-5795. Families with large animals can contact the Amador County Fairgrounds at 530-621-5795 or 530-647-6227. They can also go to Saureel Vineyards at 1140 Cold Springs Road in Placerville. For assistance transporting large animals to the shelter, call 916-439-2268 or 530-306-3159.

From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., residents can also call the Caldor Fire information line at 530-303-2455.

“Getting people out of the way of these fires is the best way for us to be able to protect your communities,” Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter reminded residents Wednesday at a briefing.

Evacuees at an American Red Cross evacuation site near Missouri Flat Road in Placerville tried to remain strong and optimistic while dealing with feelings of uncertainty. 

Veterans Outreach Program Specialist Tim Whalen sees the impact wildfires have on residents. 

“There’s strong, positive thinking, and then there’s the fear of the unknown, so it’s a big mixture, and I’ve seen the extremes,” Whalen explained. 

Families like the Muirs, who escaped the Sand Fire in Santa Clarita County in 2016, must cling to hope.

“I have to trust that God is going to continue to be by me and walk beside me and not leave,” Melinda Muir told FOX40 Thursday. 

Click or tap here for additional information.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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