Firefighters work to secure the Caldor Fire near South Lake Tahoe

Friday the wind will generally be light, but on some ridge tops will be from a different direction, east-southeast with 20 mph gusts

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10:28 a.m. PDT Sept. 3, 2021

Caldor Fire strike team engines
Two strike teams of engines, including 9271C, preparing for their shift on the Caldor Fire Sept. 3, 2021. CAL FIRE Amador-El Dorado Unit photo.

The Incident Management Team reports that weather on the 212,000-acre Caldor Fire near South Lake Tahoe continued to moderate Thursday and Thursday night with cooler temperatures in the 70’s during the day with lighter southwest winds. Fire growth was minimal, increasing by about 2,000 acres. In an indication of what kind of fire behavior they had been facing for weeks, Thursday night the Fire Behavior Analyst called it good news that the spotting distance has decreased from one mile to a half mile.

At the head of the 8,000-acre finger of fire east of Highway 89 near Trimmer Peak south of South Lake Tahoe, hotshot crews were successful in extinguishing fire around numerous hot spots. Dozers and hand crews are putting in direct and indirect line on the south side of that finger. Crews are also putting in dozer line on the north side, in some places tying it in with power line rights of way.

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

On the south side of the fire west of Kirkwood dozers and hand crews have completed a line around the south edge of the 800-acre slop over south of Highway 88, northwest of the ski area. They are installing a hose lay to keep it secure and to mop up.

Today, Friday, the inversion will break around 10 a.m. when fire behavior may begin to increase. Relative humidity is expected to be in the teens, and winds will generally be light except on ridges where they could be from the east-southeast with gusts to 20 mph. This major shift in the wind direction could test some constructed firelines in a way they have not been in recent days. Exceptionally dry fuel conditions exist in the fire area.

In a live briefing Thursday night Sept. 3 East Side Incident Commander Rocky Oplinger complimented the agencies for the fuel treatments that have been accomplished over the years. He said the 150-foot flame lengths dropped to about 15-feet when the fire entered the treated areas. This allowed hand crews and engines to take an aggressive approach to suppress the fire and prevent structure loss. The video of the briefing is on Facebook; Mr. Oplinger’s comments about the fuel treatments begin at 34:10.

The number of residences destroyed, 661, is an increase of 39 since Thursday; 196 other structures have also burned. Fire officials are maintaining a map that shows structures which have been evaluated for damage.

3:52 p.m. PDT Sept. 2, 20212

Caldor Fire 3-D map, northeast side, 11:13 a.m. Sept. 2, 2021
Caldor Fire 3-D map, northeast side, 11:13 a.m. Sept. 2, 2021.

The movement of the Caldor Fire has slowed in recent days as the wind decreased and as portions of the fire moved into high elevations or areas where there is more granite than vegetation.

On the northeast side of the fire east of Highway 89 dozers have been building line on the north side, the flank closest to South Lake Tahoe. Night Operations Section Chief Craig Dougherty said Thursday morning a large portion of that flank now has fireline. On Wednesday and Wednesday night four structure protection groups were working in that area mopping up and securing the edge of the fire.

The south side of that large finger of fire is active with a backing fire

The fire is still about the same distance from the shore of Lake Tahoe, about 4 miles, and it is 3 miles from the Nevada state line. The head, or the far northeast area, has spread uphill above 9,000 feet, where the sub-alpine vegetation should act to slow the movement, but spotting at times keeps it moving.

Caldor Fire map
Caldor Fire map, 11:13 a.m. Sept. 2, 2021.

Fire officials are maintaining a map that shows structures which have been evaluated for damage. To date, crews have confirmed that 622 residences and 189 other structures have been destroyed.

Wednesday evening 4,451 personnel were committed to the fire which was mapped Wednesday night at 210,000 acres.

Caldor Fire map
Caldor Fire map, northeast side, 11:13 a.m. Sept. 2, 2021.

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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.

10 thoughts on “Firefighters work to secure the Caldor Fire near South Lake Tahoe”

  1. I want to say THANK YOU TO ALL FIREFIGHTERS AND EMERGENCY SERVICES, your endless hardwork is very much appreciated. Stay safe out there.

  2. God Bless all those who are working so hard to protect so many. My Grandson is one of the Dozer operators. My prayers go out to all of you brave and committed men & women. Thank you is not enough, but that and prayers are all that we can give you right now. God help you all in this fight.

  3. Firefighters were able to save my sister’s house on the edge of the forest due to the aggressive efforts of the firefighters. Friday morning and the fire has turned left at the northern most edge and is heading back towards Pioneer Trail in SLT.

  4. The one lesson we all need to learn from yet another wild summer of destructive wildfires is that folks who live in wooded communities, simply do not take the possibility of fire serious enough. The burned out homes with the backdrop of a thick scorched forest, says it all. People do not take the time (and effort) to thin trees and remove brush.

  5. “Unskilled Labor?!” I do NOT think so.

    Brave Skilled Professionals I proclaim! All the best.

    NO loss of life and stay safe to keep it so.

  6. What you said is true, for the most part. People do need to be much more pro-active and thin out the vegetation around their homes and remove the brush, to give the fire fighters a fair chance to fight these fires.

    The other part of it is that, over the past 30-40 years, the environmentalists have caused a lot of this problem by getting in the way of proper forest management. There is no reason for us to be importing lumber from Canada and then let our forests burn down. Crazy ideas like trying to save ONE particular species of an owl, ends up losing the entire natural animal habitat with these huge fires.

    Proper and good fire breaks are the answer to these fires that occur every year. Finland and many other European countries do it. We can too. Lets cut out the politics !

  7. Comparing the fire maps from a few days ago and last week, one of the new areas of fire is in the Crystal Range area. Maybe a little West of the part of the ridge that has Cup Lake and Ralston Peak.

    The weather forecast from Windfinder shows the West & Southwest wind returning on September 8 & 9.

    Though conditions sound benign enough that the fire-fighting teams will have most of the near-residential areas sewn up by then.

  8. This problem is way older than 40 years in the making.

    Finland is not comparable to the western United States for many reasons.

    You will not find a firebreak that prevents spotting in excessive of 1.5 miles.

    It’s a complex problem and the looking for causes nets you an “all of the above” answer. Anyone who tells you they’ve got the solution (and it’s easy to boot!) is lying.

  9. Doesn’t the U.S. export a lot of lumber and forest products, too. It’s odd how so much is exported while at the same time so much is imported. LR

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