September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Crews work to keep Caldor Fire from jumping Highway 88 near Kirkwood

Wildfire Watch

KIRKWOOD, Calif. (KTXL) – Firefighters and equipment assigned to the Caldor Fire poured into the Kirkwood Ski Resort area Tuesday as flames spread over Highway 88, threatening homes. 

Even though the fire leaped over Highway 88 in Amador County Monday, there is plenty of fire to the north of the highway, which means this fire could leap over the highway again at different spots, expanding even more.

Much like on Highway 50, firefighters were hoping to use Highway 88 leading into the Tahoe Basin as a fire break. Areas where the strategy paid off could be seen, with charred terrain on one side and green on the other. Stretches of the roadway were stained pink with fire retardant when flames got too close to the highway. 

But the threat continued Tuesday as trees and brush interspersed in the granite canyons continued to move closer. 

Aerial resources were used extensively, as tankers continually flew above and helicopters used Silver Lake to top off with water for delivery on hot spots. 

At Kit Carson Lodge just down the road from Kirkwood, timber harvesters were cutting 60-foot trees on both sides of the highway to deprive the fire of fuel, but steep cliffs in some areas made that impossible as airborne embers continued to ignite dry brush under red flag conditions. 

It doesn’t take long for trees to catch fire and it’s incredibly difficult to keep the fire on the north side of Highway 88. In steep terrain, the fire will move quickly.

The Kirkwood Ski Resort at Kirkwood Meadows was a convenient place as a staging area for fire resources like bulldozers. 

Mandatory evacuations were issued several days ago and Amador County Sheriff’s deputies patrolled the area to make sure no one remained and that the area was free of looters. But flames are now dangerously close to the resort. 

Bulldozers worked quickly to cut a fire break around the property, and numerous engines were stationed in the parking lot to protect structures as well as the homes and condos surrounding the resort. 

Kirkwood also made ample use of its snowmaking infrastructure to protect ski lifts. 

With the fire just a few hundred yards away, a fleet of fire engines and crews mapped out a structure protection strategy in pockets populated with vacation homes and cabins. 

They began positioning engines, clearing brush from structures and began rolling out water hoses as flames approached. 

With all the cabins interspersed into the woods in Kirkwood, firefighters will have their hands full over the next few days to keep them all safe.  

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