More evacuations ordered for Caldor Fire southwest of Lake Tahoe

149,000 acres have burned

9:36 a.m. PDT August 28, 2021

Caldor Fire map 11 p.m. August 27, 2021
Caldor Fire, mapped by a fixed wing flight at 11 p.m. August 27, 2021. The areas shaded dark red had intense heat during the mapping flight.

The Caldor Fire on Friday spread less than in previous days, but still grew by about 6,000 acres to bring the size up to 149,000 acres.

There was incremental movement on northeast side, less than half a mile, but the area where it spread most was on the west side. Late in the afternoon a wind shift pushed flames about 1.5 miles southwest along Camp Creek south of Sly Park Road, forcing firefighters to withdraw from the area. This was southeast of Pleasant Valley and northwest of Somerset. An aggressive attack from the air with helicopters and very large air tankers commenced, but visibility degraded by smoke limited their use, often having to loiter in orbit waiting for the smoke to clear.

To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Caldor Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.

Inversions Saturday night slowed the spread, but with the relative humidity remaining mostly below 35 percent the down canyon winds from the east kept the fire active with spot fires occurring in the Camp Creek area. But the wind direction made it easier for firefighters on the east side to conduct burning operations.

Caldor Fire map west side 11 p.m. August 27 2021
Map of the west side of the Caldor Fire, mapped by a fixed wing flight at 11 p.m. August 27, 2021. The green line was the perimeter 27 hours earlier.

7:37 a.m. PDT August 27, 2021

Caldor Fire 3-D map
Northeast side of the Caldor Fire in 3-D, looking northeast. Mapped by a fixed wing aircraft at 8:11 p.m. PDT August 26, 2021.

Additional evacuations were ordered on the 143,000-acre Caldor Fire Thursday. The blaze was very active on the northeast side, and that continued into the night due to the humidity rising to only 22 to 28 percent. Short-range spotting produced numerous spot fires across control lines. The wind subsided after midnight and the spread of the fire slowed.

Firefighting aircraft were hampered Thursday with visibility degraded by smoke.

The growth was primarily to the northeast as the fire moves closer to the small communities along Highway 50. Unofficial distances from the fire were measured based on a mapping flight at 8:11 p.m. PDT August 26. This information should not be used for planning or making decisions about evacuation. Strawberry, 1.5 miles; the southern junction of Highways 50 and 89, 8 miles; Fallen Leaf Lake, 8 miles; Lake Tahoe shoreline, 11 miles.

For Friday firefighters expect the growth will continue in the northeastern areas but will be moderated by the arrival of light winds. Spot fires are likely to occur some distance from the fire’s edge and previously undetected sleepers caused by burning embers from earlier activity may emerge. In the evening the light winds will allow nighttime inversions to form.

Caldor Fire map
Caldor Fire, mapped by a fixed wing aircraft at 8:11 p.m. PDT August 26, 2021.

The weather forecast for Friday at 6,000 feet is for 8 mph winds out of the northwest with humidity in the mid-teens and a high of 78 degrees. Saturday will be warmer with lower humidity and 8 mph hour winds out of the south and west.

The fire has destroyed 469 residences and 181 other structures; more than 18,000 are threatened. The El Dorado County Sheriff in collaboration with CAL FIRE has released a map displaying properties that have been inspected for any damage or that have been destroyed by the Caldor Fire.

Mandatory evacuations are in place for 33,723 residents as well as warnings that mandatory evacuations may occur for other areas in the future.  Evacuation notices are posted by the El Dorado County Sheriff’s office. Below is a screenshot from the Sheriff’s website, obtained at 7:11 a.m. PDT August 27, 2021. Go to their site for current information.

Caldor Fire evacuation map
Caldor Fire evacuation map, obtained from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s website at 7:11 a.m. PDT Aug 27, 2021.

Resources assigned to the fire Thursday evening included 250 fire engines, 63 water tenders, 25 helicopters, 82 hand crews, and 71 dozers for a total of 3,204 personnel.

In the two weeks it has been burning, the average daily suppression cost of the Caldor Fire is $3.4 million; about $24 an acre. And it is far from being over.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

6 thoughts on “More evacuations ordered for Caldor Fire southwest of Lake Tahoe”

  1. The Caldor wildfire has made it to Strawberry Resort, the Cliffs above the American River headwaters, Lovers Leap and the steep grade up to Echo Summit. The Firefighters are doing exceptional work under intense conditions.

    These Professional Firefighters have been working 14+ days solid to arrest this fire. They have been doing defensible space removal and wrapping summer homes with shake and bake protection. The winds have been very mild and they are using back burns in and around the area.

    All stay safe and thank you all.

  2. Hi Bill,
    Just a quick note to say THANKS for all you do for those of us out here who desperately NEED the information you gather! A High Five for that for sure!
    Oh, and one other thing, I don’t know how others feel about the 3D mapping that you’re now including, but what an amazing difference this makes over the “flat” maps which, although essential, don’t really give a perspective to the terrain involved! So another High Five for this too!
    Thanks again!
    Ol’ Bill

  3. Bill – You and I may have been out of the business too long and I may be missing something since I haven’t flown over the area, BUT your satellite map indicates a mostly rock range to the NW of Twin Bridges. Thinking “Choke Point” using the rocky ridge as an anchor, it appears one possibility would be to cut a WIDE dozer on a SE line near the ridge South of the ski area and tie it to the rocky ridge on the East. I always taught my crews, faced with no reinforcements, to run the fire into the rocks.
    Like I said, we’re old and we aren’t there!

  4. I notice that evac map from El Dorado County doesn’t mess around with the Level 1 – Get Ready nonsense, but rather refers to evac (warning) and evac (mandatory). HIGH FIVES to the persons responsible for that.
    Fire agencies have messed around for far too long with creatively unhelpful terms such as Level 2 (something?) and Level 3 (go now!). When I have talked with confused non-fire people and media people I tell them it’s much easier, it’s just like this:
    Level 1-2-3 READY-SET-GO
    The language terms used to communicate something so dangerous as an evacuation in front of a moving fire absolutely must be brief and clear and understandable. Pretty much all adults in the West have learned about storm watch and storm warning, or flood watch and flood warning, and I can’t think up an argument against evacuation watch and evacuation warning — followed by mandatory evacuation orders.
    Lots of people use the word VERBIAGE to mean “here’s a bunch of words, some text on a page”
    but that’s not what verbiage means. What the agencies are using to describe evac levels is VERBIAGE:
    An excess of words for the purpose; wordiness.
    The use of many words without necessity; superabundance of words; wordiness; verbosity.

    We need these terms to be clear and consistent and quit fooling around with that Level 2 noise.

  5. Bill G. Good map; thanks. It looks like the old Fred Fire is in the same area on North side of US50. I went hiking in that area near Wrights Lake several years after and I do not remember a lot of fuels in that area and very steep granite near the top. Do you believe the map accurate about that area?


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