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Caldor Fire: 2 seriously injured as wildfire grows at threatening pace

KCRA Sacramento logo KCRA Sacramento 8/19/2021
a close up of smoke: caldor fire evening latest aug. 17, 2021 © KCRA LiveCopter 3 caldor fire evening latest aug. 17, 2021

Two people were seriously injured and hospitalized Tuesday because of a wildfire burning in El Dorado County that's prompted a slew of new evacuations and tore through the community of Grizzly Flats, Cal Fire said.

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New evacuation orders were issued early Wednesday morning that include the community of Kyburz.

One person from the Grizzly Flats area approached firefighters around 7 a.m., Cal Fire said. Crews tried giving medical care to the victim before requesting air transport for them, Cal Fire said. A second person was also injured in the Grizzly Flats area and was transported by air to a local hospital.

The Caldor Fire ignited Saturday near Little Mountain between Omo Ranch and Grizzly Flats and has burned more than 22,169 acres, Cal Fire said Tuesday afternoon. There is no containment around the fire.

As of Tuesday, Cal Fire said 86 structures had been confirmed destroyed.

As the wildfire raged, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in El Dorado County. With declaring a state of emergency, the state can pull from federal funds to assist with the other major wildfires in California: the Dixie Fire in Butte, Plumas, Lassen and Tehama counties, and the Monument Fire in Trinity County.

Residents in the Grizzly Flats and Somerset areas were ordered to leave early Tuesday morning because of the Caldor Fire.

Another evacuation order was issued for the Sly Park area a few hours later. An environmental center there usually welcomes thousands of students from the Sacramento area, although not since the COVID-19 pandemic.

People from the Pollock Pines area were then ordered to evacuate Tuesday afternoon. Placerville police said to expect congestion on westbound Highway 50 as residents fled their homes.

U.S. Forest Service officials said they will likely announce a complete shutdown of the El Dorado National Forest.

RELATED | KCRA 3 Chief Meteorologist Mark Finan discusses Caldor Fire, weather impacts

"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 in a Tuesday briefing.

Deputies with the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office are in the Grizzly Flats and Pollock Pines areas to patrol after receiving several reports of looting.

A debris pile and playground equipment were all that remained at Walt Tyler Elementary School in Grizzly Flats. KCRA 3 reporter Lysée Mitri said she also witnessed a post office that was destroyed.

An evacuation warning has been issued for south of Highway 50 to Pleasant Valley Road and from Sly Park Road west to Snows Road and Newtown Road, including the community of Rancho Del Sol. A warning means fire behavior could threaten nearby homes and businesses. Evacuations aren't mandatory but they are encouraged.

| MORE | Wildfire Map: Here's where California fires are burning

Some 2,000 structures are threatened, according to Cal Fire. Some homes have burned in the fire, but an estimate of damaged and destroyed structures is not yet available.

Evacuee grateful to have escaped


Video: Caldor Fire In El Dorado County Grows To 700 Acres (CBS Sacramento)

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Darby Flynn, who lives in the area, was headed to a friend’s house after fleeing her home before her evacuation warning became mandatory.

Speaking outside a Safeway in Pollock Pines where she was picking up a prescription, Flynn said she was “glad to be able to evacuate and not be caught in the fire.”

“I just kind of grabbed some things and some important artwork that my mom painted for me and something my aunt made for me and that was pretty much it,” she said. “Otherwise, I just try to remember that things are things and most of them you can replace.”

Caldor Fire evacuee Sheila Seddon said outside an evacuation center in Diamond Springs that the fire was "scary."

“It was just black and orange and really — history repeating itself,” she said.

Evacuation orders

  • South of Highway 50 from Ice House Road to Silver Fork Road. This includes the community of Kyburz.
  • North of Highway 50 from Ice House Road to Silver Fork Road to include Ice House Reservoir, Union Valley Reservoir, and Loon Lake.
  • Grizzly Flat: The areas on Grizzly Flats Road east of Kendra Way into Grizzly

    Flats Proper. The areas of Diamond Railroad Grade, Old School House,

    Sweeney Road, Caldor Road, and Steely Ridge.

  • Grizzly Flats Road east of four corners in Somerset into Grizzly Flats Proper.

    The areas of Myers Lane, Varmet Ridge Road, Rodwell Canyon Road,

    Snowbird Lane, and Mehwald Lane.

  • East of Sly Park Road between Highway 50 and Mormon Emigrant Trail to Ice

    House Road. This includes the communities of Pacific House and Fresh Pond.

  • North of Highway 50, east of Forebay Road to Ice House Road.
  • Intersection of Perry Creek and Hawk Haven, the East side of Fairplay Road

    from Perry Creek South to Cedarville Road. This includes Slug Gulch, Omo

    Ranch, and all roads off of Slug Gulch and Omo Ranch.

  • All roads off of Omo Ranch from Cedarville Road to Highway 88.
  • The area between Highway 88 and Mormon Emigrant Trail
  • South of Highway 50 from Snows Road to Ice House Road.
  • Between Highway 50 and Slab Creek from Snows Road to Ice House Road.

Click here to sign up for El Dorado County's alert notification system

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office over the weekend issued evacuation orders for people within a 1.5-mile radius of the fire. On Monday, evacuation warnings were upgraded to orders for people in the Leoni Meadows and Big Mountain areas. More people were then ordered to flee Tuesday.

Shelter information

  • Cameron Park Community Service District, 2502 Country Club Drive, Cameron Park, CA 95682 — this shelter is full and not accepting additional evacuees at this time.
  • Green Valley Church, 3500 Missouri Flat Road, Placerville, CA . This shelter is currently accepting evacuees.
  • Diamond Springs Fire Hall Evacuation Center — this center is is currently full.
  • For small animal shelter needs, you can call the El Dorado County Animal Services at 530-621-5795
  • Large Animal Shelter: Amador County Fairgrounds, 18621 Sherwood St., Plymouth. Call 530-621-5795 or 530-647-622 for more information.

School closures

The following schools are closed because of the fire:

Gold Oak Union School District: Gold Oak Elementary School and Pleasant Valley Middle School

Pioneer Union School District: Walt Tyler Elementary, Pioneer Elementary, Mountain Creek Middle School

Battling the blaze

Smoke from the Dixie Fire burning in Butte and Plumas counties helped crews in El Dorado County because it prevented higher temperatures, Cal Fire said in a Tuesday briefing.

Cal Fire anticipates more evacuation orders within the next few days due to the fire, which has grown so rapidly that crews are having a difficult time establishing a perimeter.

More than 200 personnel are fighting the blaze.

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| RELATED | Fire Season 2021 Preparedness Guide: What to know, how to keep your family safe

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