September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Protecting homes along Highway 50 remains priority as Caldor Fire prompts new evacuations

Wildfire Watch

The Latest – Friday, Aug. 27:

7:34 p.m.

New evacuation orders have been issued in El Dorado County.

El Dorado County • Pleasant Valley Road and all intersecting roads extending south from Newtown Road to the intersection of E-16, (Mt Aukum Road). • All roads accessed from E-16, (Mt Aukum Road), between Pleasant Valley Road and Bucks Bar Road. • This includes all roads and residences accessed from Moon-Shadow and Gopher Hole Road off Bucks Bar Road. 

El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office

Original Story Below:

EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL/AP) — Crews continue to fight the Caldor Fire, focusing on protecting homes along Highway 50 as new evacuations were ordered Thursday.

The U.S. Forest Service said the fire began 4 miles south of Grizzly Flats and 2 miles east of Omo Ranch in the Eldorado National Forest Saturday, Aug. 14. By Friday morning, the Caldor Fire was 143,951 acres — over 224 square miles — and remains 12% contained.

The fire is headed toward Echo Summit, a mountain pass where cliff-hanging Highway 50 begins its descent toward Lake Tahoe.

Thursday, the Lake Tahoe Unified School District said it is postponing the start school year until Sept. 7 because of the fire. 

“Years ago, I would have never thought that we’d be having Tahoe as a threat,” Sacramento Fire Department Captain Keith Wade said. “Over the last couple of years, now we’re starting to realize that anything’s possible.”

The last major blaze in the area took South Lake Tahoe by surprise after blowing up from an illegal campfire in the summer of 2007. The Angora Fire burned less than 5 square miles but destroyed 254 homes, injured three people and forced 2,000 people to flee.

Red Hawk Casino in Placerville will be closed until Monday out of an abundance of caution as the air quality in the area reached unhealthy levels, officials reported Friday.

Highway 50 remains closed in both directions from Sly Park Road to Meyers.

The Eldorado National Forest is also closed. 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.

Click or tap here to see the current fire perimeter.

Approximately 24,500 people in El Dorado County are under evacuation orders as of Thursday evening.

More than 18,340 structures remain threatened, Cal Fire reported. At least 469 homes, 11 commercial properties and 170 minor structures have been destroyed by the fire. Thirty-seven structures have been damaged.

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

Two civilians were severely injured in Grizzly Flats days after the fire sparked. No other injuries have been reported.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office is 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 you have information on Creel’s whereabouts, contact authorities at 530-642-4714.

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

The Caldor Fire is burning in challenging terrain, making access difficult for crews.

Firefighting helicopters are working daily, filling up with retardant, a major weapon against the stubborn flames, from a mobile base in Placerville.

Protecting homes along Highway 50 is a priority for crews. Hundreds of homes and remote cabins near Kyburz and Strawberry are being guarded by firefighters.

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

Friday morning, fire crews reported the fire was most active in the northeast area due to poor humidity recovery. Passive crown fires, which burn through the tree canopy, were also common in the northeastern and eastern portions of the fire.

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: 

  • Green Valley Church at 3500 Missouri Flat Road in Placerville, CA, in El Dorado County
  • Cameron Park Community Center at 2502 Country Club Drive in Cameron Park, CA, in El Dorado County
  • Rolling Hills Church at 800 White Rock Road in El Dorado Hills, CA, in El Dorado County
  • Amador Fairgrounds at 18621 Sherwood Street in Plymouth, CA, in Amador County [TEMPORARY/FULL]
  • Evelyn Bishop Hall at 701 CA 124 in Ione, CA, in Amador County [FULL]
  • 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.

El Dorado County is opening a Local Assistance Center Friday to provide county and state services and provide resources and information to residents impacted by the Caldor Fire. The center is located at the Folsom Lake Community College El Dorado campus. Click or tap here for additional information.

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

The cause of the Caldor Fire remains under investigation.

Click or tap here for additional information.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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