September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Raging Caldor Fire in El Dorado County grows to over 62K acres, smoke drifts into valley

Wildfire Watch

The Latest – Aug. 18:

9:58 p.m.

The Caldor Fire has burned 62,586 acres and is at 0% containment.

5:56 p.m.

The Red Cross set up two temporary evacuation points in Amador County at Amador Fairgrounds, 18621 Sherwood Street in Plymouth and the other will be at the Evelyn Bishop Hall, 701 CA 124 in Ione.

5:15 p.m.

The Amador County Sheriff’s Office has issued evacuation warnings for areas south of the El Dorado County line:

  • Shenandoah Road at the Amador County line west through the River Pines community, continuing west on Shenandoah Road to Ostrom Road.
  • South on Ostrom Road to Jibboom Street, west on Jibboom Street to Fiddletown Road.• East on Fiddletown Road to Hale Road.
  • South on Hale Road to Shake Ridge Road.
  • East on Shake Ridge Road to Charleston Road.
  • South on Charleston Road to the intersection of Charleston Road and Rams Horn Grade. • Due east to Highway 88 at Tiger Creek Road.
  • Tiger Creek Road east to Salt Springs Reservoir Road.
  • East on Salt Springs Reservoir Road to the east end of the Salt Springs Reservoir.
  • Due north from the east end of Salt Springs reservoir to Highway 88.

EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL/AP) — Fire crews are battling the Caldor Fire in the El Dorado National Forest, as a Red Flag Warning remains in effect for Northern California until 8 p.m. Wednesday.

The fire exploded in size Tuesday. By Wednesday morning the Caldor Fire was 53,772 acres and 0% contained. Click or tap here to see the current fire perimeter.

More than 12,000 residents in multiple communities were ordered to evacuate Monday and Tuesday as the fast-moving flames moved through El Dorado County. Nearly 6,000 structures are threatened by the fire.

Cal Fire said Tuesday teams will move in to assess the damage when they’re able, but fire officials estimated that at least 50 homes had burned in the area since the fire erupted. 

Images from the neighborhoods in the Forest View Drive and Grizzly Flats Road area show homes and cars reduced to melted rubble and ash. Cal Fire also reported structure loss in Leoni Meadows.

Few homes were left standing in Grizzly Flats, where streets were littered with downed power lines and poles. Houses 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.

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

A school official told FOX40 on Wednesday Gold Oak Elementary School and Pleasant Valley Middle School in the Gold Oak Union School District are closed, as well as Walt Tyler Elementary School, Pioneer Elementary School and Mountain Creek Middle School in the Pioneer Union School District.

Cal Fire reported two civilians were injured overnight into Tuesday morning in Grizzly Flats. One person was seriously hurt and approached firefighters for help before being hospitalized. The other person was also severely injured and later flown to a local hospital.

The U.S. Forest Service said the fire began Saturday evening 4 miles south of Grizzly Flats and 2 miles east of Omo Ranch. Officials have announced an emergency closure of the Eldorado National Forest.

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

“It’s really tough to make access, there’s a lot of logging roads, they’re thin, they’re dirt, they’re unpaved and once you get in there it’s steep and rocky and otherwise inaccessible,” Metro Fire Battalion Chief Chris Vestal told FOX40 Tuesday. 

What worries fire managers is the wind is expected to shift Wednesday, possibly sending the fire in an entirely different direction.

To help with battling the fire, a Fire Management Assistance Grant was secured by California, the governor’s office announced Tuesday.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday communities in the area “should be on alert and prepared to evacuate.” 

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.

The following locations have been listed as evacuation centers: 

  • The Fireman’s Hall at 3734 China Garden Road in Diamond Springs, CA, in El Dorado County [FULL]
  • 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

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 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.

“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.

Pollock Pines resident Debbie Williams got the word to leave at 1 a.m. Wednesday. She and her husband were packed, but it was still emotional. 

“It was very scary and you don’t know how you’re going to feel until you’re driving away and you look at your house and everything you know you couldn’t take hits your heart,” Williams said.

Sly Park resident Rich Skaggs refused to evacuate, fearing he wouldn’t be able to get back in, even after the danger is over. 

“We’re ready to go if we have to and we’re watching it closely,” he said. “I mean, what are you going to do? If we leave, we’ll sit in our RV in the smoke and just worry about things.”

Late Tuesday, Pacific Gas & Electric said it has begun shutting off power to as many as 51,000 customers in 18 Northern California counties to prevent wildfires for the first time since last year’s historically bad fire season.

The utility said the shutoffs were focused in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the North Coast, the North Valley and the North Bay mountains and could last into Wednesday afternoon.

The nation’s largest utility announced the blackouts as a precaution to prevent gusts from damaging power lines and sparking blazes.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Click or tap here for additional information.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

State officials provided an update on California’s wildfires on Wednesday at the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Watch the full video below.

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