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Caldor Fire: Containment grows on massive wildfire

KCRA Sacramento logo KCRA Sacramento 9/15/2021
a man sitting on a rock next to a tree: caldor fire damage © KCRA caldor fire damage

More evacuation orders prompted by the Caldor Fire in El Dorado County have been downgraded to warnings this week as crews continue to get a better handle on the large wildfire in the Tahoe area.

With evacuation orders being downgraded, residents can return home but officials advise they be ready to evacuate again in case fire activity flares up again.

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Growth has slowed on the fire in recent days, and President Joe Biden toured damage from the wildfire Monday as part of his effort to drum up support for his massive $3.5 trillion spending plan by linking it to beating back wildfires and upgrading social programs.

"These fires are blinking 'code red' for our nation. They're gaining frequency and ferocity," Biden said after concluding an aerial tour of the Caldor Fire.

Jeff Cornett was one of the many Grizzly Flats residents who lost his home in wildfire, but he's determined to rebuild.

"It was a little bit emotional," Cornett said over the weekend as he stood by the burned remains of his property. "But I knew for the most part what I was coming here to see."

Over the next few days, Grizzly Flats residents will be returning home to assess the damage left behind by the Caldor Fire. Some homes were left completely standing, while most were burned to the ground.

Acreage, containment and structure outlook

The Caldor Fire, which ignited near Little Mountain between Omo Ranch and Grizzly Flats, has burned at least 219,267 acres, or more than 342 square miles, and containment stands at 68%, Cal Fire said in its Tuesday morning update. It is currently the 15th-largest wildfire in state history and the 16th-most destructive.

Click here to see a map showing the fire's progression.

| VIDEO BELOW| LiveCopter 3 footage on Sept. 3 shows Grizzly Flats damage from Caldor Fire

As of Tuesday morning, Cal Fire said 782 homes and 18 commercial properties had been confirmed destroyed. The fire also damaged fiber lines.

Roughly 16,600 structures remain threatened, and evacuation orders are in place for thousands of people.

Latest evacuation updates

On Tuesday, evacuation orders were downgraded to warnings for the following areas:

Crystal Basin B: From Ice House Road east to the border of Desolation Wilderness and from the Placer County line, south to Granite Springs Road and the area south of Granite Springs Road to Highway 50 at Wrights Lake Road.

Additionally, evacuation warnings have been lifted in the following areas:

Crystal Basin A: West of Ice House Road, from the Placer County line, south to Highway 50 and east of Junction Reservoir.

The area of Happy Valley Road from Mt Aukum Road to Cosumnes Mine Road.

Click here for the complete list of evacuation orders and warnings

App users, click here to see a map of active evacuation orders

Road closures

Click here for more information on highway closures

Shelter information

  • Shelter: Rolling Hills Church, 800 White Rock Road, El Dorado Hills, CA
  • Shelter: Reno Sparks Convention Center, 4590 South Virginia Street, Reno, NV

Animal evacuation information

  • El Dorado County Animal Services (small animals): 6435 Capitol Ave., Diamond Springs, CA. For animal evacuation questions or assistance, call 530-621-5795.
  • Saureel Vineyards (large animals): 1140 Cold Springs Road, Placerville, CA. Call 530-621-5795 for more info. (This is full)

In Nevada:

  • Douglas County Fairgrounds, 920 Pinenut Road, Gardnerville, NV
  • East to West Grooming, 1368 Hwy 395, Unit B1, Gardnerville, NV
  • Washoe County Animal Services, 2825 Longley Lane, Suite A, Reno, NV
  • Douglas County Animal Services, 921 Dump Road, Gardnerville, NV

Caldor Fire structure damage map

El Dorado County officials launched a structure damage map so residents can see the status of their homes.

The map is updated daily at 9 a.m.

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

Battling the blaze


Video: Caldor Fire Grows, Containment Also Ticks Up (CBS Sacramento)

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Steep, rugged terrain and "critically dry fuel conditions" continue to hamper firefighters' efforts in some areas, Cal Fire says.

"Firefighters will work diligently as more warm weather, southwest winds, and low humidity are expected over the next few operational periods," Cal Fire said in its Tuesday morning incident report.

Cal Fire said line construction and mop-up will continue Tuesday on uncontained fire edges northwest of Caples Lake, on the east side of Trimmer Peak and near Desolation Wilderness.

Caldor Fire timeline

Aug. 14

The Caldor Fire ignites near Little Mountain between Omo Ranch and Grizzly Flats.

Aug. 17

The community of Grizzly Flats was mostly leveled by the fire, and two civilians were injured.

Gov. Gavin Newsom also declared a state of emergency in El Dorado County, allowing for access to federal funds to assist in subduing the fire.

Aug. 20

Officials close Highway 50 to allow for first responders to travel across easier.

Aug. 21

A spot fire jumped north of Highway 50.

Aug. 28

The Caldor Fire reaches the mountain community of Strawberry, but crews were able to protect structures.

Aug. 30

The fire jumps east of Highway 89 near Echo Summit. U.S. Forest Service officials also announced they would close all national forests in the state as wildfire risk increases.

Sept. 1

Gov. Gavin Newsom visited the fire zone and spoke with KCRA reporter Mike TeSelle from Camp Sacramento.

"It's loss and I think that's really the story in the last couple of years. The anxiety. The loss, the fear. And now you see loss of lifestyles, places traditions. Grizzly Flats wiped off the map. Greenville wiped off the map. Prior to that up there, Paradise," said Newsom, referencing towns ravaged by California wildfires. "So it's remarkable to put it into perspective what we're up against in the context of a different kind of language and understanding of what this means for communities that have been completely torn asunder."

Newsom also announced that within hours of California's request, the White House approved an emergency declaration to increase federal funding to assist with the Caldor Fire.

Sept. 2

Officials say the Caldor Fire had its slowest growth rate since Day 1 of the fire.

Sept. 5

Evacuation orders for the city of South Lake Tahoe were reduced to warnings, allowing for residents to return home.

Sept. 6

Evacuation orders were reduced and warnings were lifted for Grizzly Flats, the community mostly destroyed by the Caldor Fire.

Sept. 7

More El Dorado County evacuees were able to return home as containment grows on the fire.

Sept. 8

Crews continued working along the closed stretch of Highway 50 clearing hazard trees as firefighters battle the Caldor Fire in the Tahoe area that has forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes.

Cal Fire said the highway cleanup effort will "support safe repopulation" for more evacuees "in the coming days."

Sept. 9

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for portions of Northern California, including the entire Sacramento Valley and northern San Joaquin Valley.

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are happening now or will occur shortly. Things that can contribute to extreme fire behavior include lightning, strong winds, low relative humidity and warm weather.

Sept. 12

Evacuation orders in Christmas Valley, a community once threatened by fast-moving flames, were downgraded to warnings. Evacuation warnings for the City of South Lake Tahoe were also lifted entirely.

Sept. 13

President Joe Biden visits California and surveys damage from the Caldor Fire as part of an effort to drum up support for his massive $3.5 trillion spending plan by linking it to beating back wildfires and upgrading social programs.

— The Associated Press contributed reporting.

More Caldor Fire coverage

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

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