Officials report progress on Caldor Fire
Update Friday 7:35 a.m.:
The Caldor Fire has burned 212,907 acres and is 29% contained as of Friday morning, according to Cal Fire. Cal Fire expects full containment by Sept. 27, according to an incident report released Friday.
The Caldor Fire has now burned 210,259 acres and is 25% contained, though authorities expressed optimism in a Cal Fire press conference held Thursday afternoon as to firefighters’ overall control over the blaze.
In both the west and east zones of the Caldor Fire, which remains active in both El Dorado and Amador counties and has threatened communities near South Lake Tahoe, Cal Fire officials said that lighter winds proved favorable for firefighters as they tightened containment lines around the blaze.
“We’ve had a much lighter pattern of winds across the fire, and we expect this lighter wind ‘regime’ to stay through Friday, Saturday and even into Sunday,” said Jim Dudley, a Cal Fire meteorologist reporting on the western zone.
“With the decrease in winds we’re really seeing a decrease in fire activity, which is great news for our resources on the ground,” said Steve Volmer, a Cal Fire wildfire behavior analyst. While cautioning that spot fires remain a significant challenge for firefighters, Volmer expressed that the regressing activity of regional winds has helped reduce the spread of spot fires, which often ignite when high winds scatter embers from an existing blaze.
In the eastern half of the fire, which includes a whole host of communities along Highway 50 including Strawberry, South Lake Tahoe, and Kingsbury, Cal Fire commanders similarly reported that lighter winds, combined with the vigorous efforts of both ground and air resources, seem to have significantly slowed the fire’s progress.
Over 4,000 firefighters, including ground and air units from nine different state other than California, are now combating the Caldor Fire, according to Erich Schwab, an incident manager for Cal Fire.
Firefighters continued to work to secure containment lines to prevent the blaze from threatening more densely populated communities in areas such as the Echo Lake/Highway 50 region, said planning operations section chief Jake Cagle, who expressed that “things look really good” in this region. Likewise, Cagle said that communities in the Upper Truckee River area appear to be safe for the time being from the fire’s advance, as firefighters have worked to set containment lines to prevent any threat to the area.
No additional mandatory evacuations were ordered Thursday as a result of the Caldor Fire, officials said.
The threat posed by the Caldor Fire to communities in the South Lake Tahoe region lessened considerably on Thursday, according to Clive Savacool, chief of South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue, who expressed some optimism about the progress made Thursday in keeping the Caldor Fire away from the Lake Tahoe area.
“It’s finally a chance to take a breath,” Savacool told The Associated Press Thursday morning. “It’s a breath full of smoke. Nonetheless, I think we’re all breathing a little bit easier and we feel like we’re making some progress.”
At Thursday evening’s press conference, Savacool reiterated his earlier comments, asking evacuees in South Lake Tahoe to stay optimistic about the situation.
“Stay tight, and we’ll get you back in your homes as soon as we can,” he said.
Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at email@example.com
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