September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Caldor Fire destroys over 450 homes; crews work to protect Kyburz, Lake Tahoe Basin

Wildfire Watch

EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL/AP) — Fire crews continue to battle the fast-moving Caldor Fire in Eldorado National Forest, which has destroyed hundreds of homes.

The U.S. Forest Service said the fire began 4 miles south of Grizzly Flats and 2 miles east of Omo Ranch Saturday, Aug. 14. By Tuesday morning, the Caldor Fire was 117,704 acres — over 183 square miles — and 9% contained.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Highway 50 between Sly Park Road and Myers remains closed after gusts pushed the fire across the highway. Officials said the spot fire has been isolated, but it’s still active. 

Click or tap here to see the current fire perimeter.

More than 29,900 residents in El Dorado and Amador counties have been ordered and warned to evacuate. 

More than 17,480 structures remain threatened, Cal Fire reported. At least 455 homes, 11 commercial properties and 166 minor structures have been destroyed by the fire. Thirty-four structures have been damaged.

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.

Officials are updating a map indicating the current known status of structures. Click here to view the map.

Monday, crews worked to protect the Highway 50 community of Kyburz and keep flames away from the Lake Tahoe Basin.

“It is knocking on the door to the Lake Tahoe Basin. We have all efforts in place to keep it out of the basin,” said Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter also said of the fire.

Two civilians were severely injured in Grizzly Flats last week.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office is also trying to locate 57-year-old Marvin Hardy Creel, a man who went missing while evacuating from Grizzly Flats. 

“Apparently, when they found his truck, somewhere abandoned, it still had everything in it,” Creel’s nephew, Jim Bradford, told FOX40.

If seen, contact authorities at 530-642-4714.

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. 

“The terrain, the way it is in this area, is very steep and very rugged and fire will tend to create its own weather, too,” explained Diana Swart, with Cal Fire’s Amador-El Dorado Unit. “And that terrain-driven wind is what we’ve got our eyes on right now.”

Over the weekend, officials told FOX40 air attacks were the main course of action as crews try to keep the flames from residential areas. 

Sunday, Cal Fire Air Operations dropped over 41,000 gallons of water and over 17,000 gallons of retardant over the fire.

“We are putting a lot of effort into trying to keep that fire from moving north into Grizzly Flat and affecting more of the residences there,” said Dana Walsh, an information officer for the Caldor Fire. “The Sly Park area — Pollock Pines — there is a lot of evacuated homes. We have a lot of structure protection going on in this portion of the fire.”

Tuesday morning, fire crews reported moderate fire activity with some significant terrain-driven growth in Division W. Spot fires in the northeast also developed throughout the evening.

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
  • 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
  • Douglas County Community Center at 1329 Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville, NV, in Douglas 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.

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

Monday, California leaders requested the federal government declare a major disaster as crews battle several wildfires in the state. 

In a letter to President Joe Biden, Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla and Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, supported Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request for a major disaster in response to the Dixie, Antelope, McFarland, Monument and River fires.

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Roseville, sent a letter to Newsom asking him to add the Caldor Fire to the request list for a major disaster declaration.

Click or tap here for additional information.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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