Firefighters on Caldor Fire work to protect Strawberry

Sunday the fire ran five miles to the east along Highway 50

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10:40 p.m. PDT August 29, 2021

Caldor Fire map 8 p.m. PDT Aug. 29, 2021
Caldor Fire 3-D map looking north 8 p.m. Aug. 29, 2021. The yellow area was most recently burned.

The northeast side of the Caldor Fire was extremely active Monday. With the topography of the Highway 50 corridor aligned with the wind direction the fire ran for about five miles to the east-northeast past the community of Strawberry according to data from an 8 p.m. fixed wing mapping flight. It burned on both sides of Highway 50 and through the Sierra-At-Tahoe Resort. At that time it had come to within a quarter mile of Echo Lake and was about two miles southwest of the southern junction of Highways 50 and 89 near Meyers. The fire was 7 miles south of Lake Tahoe.

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

The fire behavior increase Monday morning on the northeast and eastern sides was due to the southwest flow returning and poor overnight humidity recovery. Wind speeds accelerated through the steep drainages resulting in gusty and erratic winds. Spot fires occurred between .75 and 1 mile in front of the main fire. Active crown fire runs were observed in multiple areas that were in alignment with the up-canyon southwest flow.

A map showing the areas under evacuation orders is available.

The Red Flag Warning on Monday will still be in effect Tuesday with dry, windy weather.

Caldor Fire map 3-D looking north 8 p.m. Aug 29, 2021
Caldor Fire, map of the northeast side at 8 p.m. Aug. 29, 2021. The yellow area was the most recently burned.
Caldor Fire map
Caldor Fire map at 8 p.m. Aug 29, 2021. The yellow area was the most recently burned.

6:28 p.m. PDT August 29, 2021

Caldor Fire map 930 a.m. PDT Aug 29, 2021
Caldor Fire map in 3-D, looking northeast. The data is from a mapping flight at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 29. The yellow areas were most recently burned.

We have fresher fire perimeter and satellite data for the Caldor Fire from 9:30 Sunday morning and afternoon with better resolution than we had before. It shows a spot fire south of Hwy. 50 south of Strawberry that at the time had burned more than 200 acres. It was about a quarter-mile away from the main fire north of the highway. The yellow areas on the map were the most recently burned.

This additional growth is beyond the dozer lines that had been constructed ahead of the fire.

At 2:12 p.m. satellites detected heat further to the east and northeast from the recent perimeter on the above map. When a fire is exhibiting extreme fire behavior and creating a huge convection column of smoke, ash, and burning embers, satellites often detect the heat in the column. When that is plotted on a map it may exaggerate the size of the fire.

These heat sources detected at 2:12 p.m. that appear to be more than two miles away from the last mapped perimeter, including up into the patchy granite north of the highway, can’t be trusted until they are verified by aircraft closer to the Earth than the VIIRS equipment orbiting 512 miles above the ground. That is a long way of saying I will not show on a map these unverified heat locations east of Twin Bridges. Updated information that is more reliable will hopefully be collected overnight.

A Red Flag Warning will be in effect from Monday morning through Tuesday. The forecast for Monday for the northeast side of the fire at 7,200 feet calls for southwest or west-southwest wind 10 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph with relative humidity in the high teens. On Tuesday the wind will be stronger.

The wind will be aligning with the topography in the corridor while the fuel moistures are historically low. The wind will put pressure on the fire to keep spreading along the Highway 50 corridor. This forecast may not be the worst case scenario for the residents northeast of the fire, but it is definitely not good news. It remains to be seen exactly what the fire will do, but residents northeast of the fire should be prepared to evacuate if ordered by the Sheriff’s office.

Additional evacuations have been ordered for areas closer to Lake Tahoe. A map showing the details has been posted.

12:06 p.m. PDT August 29, 2021

Caldor Fire map
Caldor Fire map in 3-D, looking northeast. The red line is the approximate northeast perimeter based on a mapping flight at 9:30 p.m. Aug. 28, and heat detection data from a satellite at 3:41 a.m. Aug. 29, 2021.

Much of the effort on the 156,000-acre Caldor Fire  Saturday and Saturday night was protection of structures in the community of Strawberry 11 miles southwest of Lake Tahoe on Highway 50 in Northern California. After an inversion broke the winds were up canyon at 6 to 11 mph with gusts to 18 mph along the Highway 50 corridor. In spite of low humidity and erratic winds carrying burning embers which started spot fires in the bone-dry vegetation, firefighters were able to conduct burning operations to keep buildings from igniting.

On Sunday the inversion is predicted to become established again, and begin breaking up at 11 a.m. Humidity will remain low which could increase the probability of spot fires. Growth is expected to continue on the northeast side.

Caldor Fire map
Caldor Fire map. The red line is the approximate perimeter based on a mapping flight at 9:30 p.m. Aug. 28, and heat detection data from a satellite at 3:41 a.m. Aug. 29, 2021.

Approximate distances from the northeast side of the fire at 3:41 a.m. August 29: the southern junction of Highways 50 and 89, 7 miles; Fallen Leaf Lake, 6 miles; Lake Tahoe shoreline, 10 miles. This information should not be used for planning or making decisions about evacuation.

The fire has destroyed 471 residences and 181 other structures; more than 17,000 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.

Evacuation notices are posted by the El Dorado County Sheriff’s office.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Firefighters on Caldor Fire work to protect Strawberry”

  1. Seems like the 2 Echo Lakes and the granite mountain top areas would slow the fire down, and give fire-fighters a chance to snuff the fire in that area.

    Weather report for Twin Bridges

    Weather report for Meyers

    Wind forecast is 10/13 miles per hour from the West.

    Is Accuweather missing some of the higher speed wind gusts that are mentioned in other news articles ?

  2. Caldor Wildfire is running through Desolation Wilderness and it is mostly granite. Watch out.

    Shout out the Slide Mountain Crew in South Lake Tahoe near Pope Beach. Get some rest and stay safe.

  3. Thank you so much for your coverage! We’re only 20 miles from the Caldor Fire’s west perimeter.


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