Fire crews continue to focus on Highway 50 in battle against Caldor Fire

Wildfire Watch

The Latest – Thursday, Aug. 26:

7:20 p.m.

The Caldor Fire grew to 139,510 acres — nearly 218 square miles — and was 12% contained Thursday evening. At least 650 structures have been destroyed, with another 18,347 threatened.

Original story below:

EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Firefighters stationed along Highway 50 were on the lookout for flareups, such as the one climbing up the American River Canyon to the roadway and beyond. 

Across the canyon, opposite the highway, the Caldor Fire can be seen steadily advancing.

Fire crews are using the highway as a firebreak, but the fire was spotted across the roadway at several points near Kyburz. 

“The fire continues to progress toward the northeast. There’s been spotting a half-mile, mile ahead of the fire,” said Henry Herrera, Cal Fire public information officer. “It’s igniting new fires ahead of the main run of the fire.” 

Hot embers continue to be carried by superheated air across long distances. The feat is that spot fires can grow quickly, climbing to the top of the ridge where there is more wind to fan the flames. 

It’s terrain that is unreachable by firefighters who are relying on buffer zones made by bulldozers to stop the spread of the fire.

There are spot fires on the other side of the south fork of the American River and they move more slowly downslope, but they can still create airborne embers. 

Hundreds of homes and remote cabins are being protected by fire crews near Kyburz and Strawberry. While protecting homes along Highway 50 is a priority, there are also key utility and communications gear along the corridor, and a threat to them elicited a quick response. 

A fire crew stood by to make sure a spot fire didn’t reach the communications tower and box. The loss would hamper efforts by firefighters to control the blaze. And more firefighters are arriving each day as they are being released from other fires throughout the state. 

“We’re at around 2,900. That’s what we’re putting in place to construct more dozer lines, more hand lines. And as soon as the weather is more favorable, we’ll be doing more firing operations that way as well,” Herrera said. 

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