Caldor Fire: More evacuation orders issued as fire balloons overnight

New evacuation orders were issued Tuesday for El Dorado County residents after a wildfire ignited over the weekend and exploded in size.

EMERGENCY CLOSURE OF THE ELDORADO NATIONAL FOREST – An emergency forest order was issued last night to close the Eldorado National Forest.

Forest Order 03-21-14-https://www.fs.usda.gov/…/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd945011.pdf

8/17/2021 News Release – Caldor Fire Prompts Emergency Closure of the Eldorado National Forest

PLACERVILLE, Calif. – In response to the extreme fire behavior demonstrated by the Caldor Fire, and risks to public and firefighter safety, Forest Supervisor Jeff Marsolais has issued an emergency forest closure of all National Forest System lands, roads, and trails within the Eldorado National Forest. The forest-wide closure — Forest Order No. 03-21-14 – will be in effect August 17, 2021, through September 30, 2021 to facilitate unimpeded ingress and egress for evacuations, emergency response, and property access. The closure will also limit the public’s exposure to fire danger and impaired visibility due to smoke.

In less than three days, the Caldor Fire has grown to over 30,000 acres, and California Governor Gavin Newsom has proclaimed a State of Emergency to exist in El Dorado County as a result of the fire. The Caldor Fire has already burned numerous structures and caused at least two people to be hospitalized with injuries. Because the fire is not controlled and is actively burning, there is a high risk of flare ups or uncontrolled runs within the Forest.

The closure Order prohibits the use of areas, roads and trails on the Eldorado National Forest seven days per week, 24 hours per day. Conditions will be assessed daily to determine if it is safe to lift the closure.

The following persons are exempt from this Order:

1. Persons with Forest Service Permit No. FS-7700-48 (Permit for Use of Roads, Trails, or Areas Restricted by Regulation or Order), specifically exempting them from this Order.

2. Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.

A violation of the Order is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both.

Here is the latest satellite data showing the growth of the Dixie Fire, Mc Farland Fire, and the Caldor Fire from this morning’s MODIS pass over NorCal. With critical fire weather in the forecast, please continue to practice fire weather safety.

SATELLITE SPOTLIGHT: NOAA was tracking the explosive growth of the CaldorFire last evening, seen here burning east of Sacramento, California. The wildfire has grown to nearly 23,000 acres and thousands of people have been forced to evacuate.

Red flag warnings are in effect over a vast stretch of the West — including California, Nevada and Montana, prompted by strong winds, high temperatures and drought conditions.

The latest: In Northern California, where fuel moisture and flammability are especially conducive to extreme wildfire behavior, the rapidly growing Caldor Fire prompted mandatory evacuation orders to be issued late Tuesday, as it tore through homes in and around the El Dorado County town of Grizzly Flats.

  • County fire officials said at an evening community meeting that the wildfire had razed some 50 homes in the area. It has also left two people with serious injuries.

Zoom in: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) proclaimed a state of emergency for the county earlier Tuesday due to the Caldor blaze — which ignited Sunday about 60 miles east of Sacramento and soon exploded in size. It was 0% contained and threatening at least 2,100 structures Tuesday, per the U.S. Forest Service’s El Dorado division.

  • Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for dozens of El Dorado County communities, including El Dorado County and places just south of Highway 50, according to the Forest Service.
  • “In less than three days, the Caldor Fire has grown to over 30,000 acres,” Eldorado National Forest officials said in an emailed statement announcing the forest’s immediate closure early Wednesday.

Threat level: The fire could grow quickly throughout the day and into all the way into Wednesday as strong, shifting winds affect the region, leading to what the National Weather Service is calling “critical” fire danger.

  • Per Eldorado National Forest officials: “Because the fire is not controlled and is actively burning, there is a high risk of flare ups or uncontrolled runs within the Forest.”

Of note: Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), California’s largest power company, announced plans to cut power to around 48,000 customers in parts of 18 counties in Northern California to reduce the risk of ignition from its equipment.

  • The shutoff primarily affects Butte, Shasta Tehama counties, in which the Dixie Fire — the second-largest wildfire in California’s recorded history — is burning.
  • The Dixie Fire, which has torched at least 604,511 acres and was 31% contained, spread northeast Tuesday, triggering evacuation orders outside the town of Susanville, which has a population of around 18,000.

The big picture: Western states are in the grip of a prolonged, severe drought exacerbated by human-caused climate change that has exacerbated wildfire activity in recent years.

  • Eight of the 10 largest fires in California’s history have occurred in the past five years, according to CalFire.
  • Studies show human-caused climate change is driving an increase in the likelihood and severity of heat waves and droughts, while also leading to bigger, more intense wildfires.

The Caldor Fire in El Dorado County burned Virginia Shaw’s home to the ground.

With the flames went the beloved setting of many memories, and the peace that so many who choose to live in the mountains seek.

Virginia’s entire town of Grizzly Flats is likely gone. But still, she tells me – once the smoldering ash and dust has settled, and the smoke no longer clouds the sun, she will rebuild.

We met Virginia in Pollock Pines on Tuesday. Some of her family in Rocklin drove there to see her and give her supplies for the road ahead.

Hope she is safe with her daughter in Nevada now, as she had planned. She is now one of a growing number of wildfire survivors in the American West.

EVACUATION MAP: https://eldoradocounty.maps.arcgis.com/…/index.html…

SIGN UP FOR EMERGENCY ALERTS: https://ready.edso.org/

ANIMAL EVACUATIONS:

Small Animal Evacuation Shelter: The Diamond Springs animal shelter is open only for animals evacuated because of the fire. (530) 621-5795

Large Animal Evacuation Shelter: Amador County Fairgrounds 18621 Sherwood St., Plymouth (Empire St. gate) (530) 621-5795 or (530) 647-6227

Placerville authorities say they are closely monitoring the Caldor Fire burning nearby, but say there is no indication at this point that it’s moving towards the city. 

People are being urged to sign up for El Dorado County’s CodeRED notification system to know if and when evacuation orders have been given out.

Due to evacuations from the CALDOR fire, residents from the Pollock Pines area will be traveling on WB HWY 50. Expect delays and congestion. Manual traffic control or Trip-to-Green may be implemented on HWY 50. Officers WILL NOT allow cross traffic at these times.

Evacuation orders have now been issued for the Sly Park area due to the Caldor Fire, authorities say. An evacuation warning has also been given to the Pollock Pines area. 

As the Caldor Fire grows, its path of destruction is also becoming more clear.

No exact number of homes destroyed or damaged has been released at this point, but it’s clear that many houses have been lost.

Battling the blaze

Crews dealt with “extreme fire behavior” overnight, prompting more evacuations.

Cal Fire said in its latest incident report that “structure loss was observed,” but it’s not yet safe to bring in damage assessment teams.

“The fire continues to pose a high risk to multiple populated communities. Additional evacuations orders are anticipated,” Cal Fire said in its Tuesday morning incident report.

More than 200 personnel are fighting the blaze.

Current Situation:

Extreme fire behavior was observed overnight causing immediate mandatory evacuations in the area and structure loss was observed. The actual number of destroyed/damaged structures is undetermined as fire conditions are not yet safe to bring in damage assessment teams. The fire continues to pose a high risk to multiple populated communities. Additional evacuations orders are anticipated. The Fire is predicted to impact Sly Park Lake and interstate travel including important
evacuation routes.

There is a continued threat to structures (combination of residences and outbuildings) in the communities of Omo Ranch and Grizzly Flats as well as private
businesses, commercial timberlands, vineyards and other agricultural lands. This is a rapidly changing incident with dynamic fire behavior. Our primary goal is always public and fire fighter safety – be prepared.

Please register for Code Red through the local County Sheriff’s Office
El Dorado County Code Red: https://ready.edso.org/
Amador County Code Red: https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/enUS/BFF76B488C09

Evacuation Orders are in effect for the following areas:

  • Barney Ridge east of Omo Ranch community
  • Leoni Meadows
  • Pi’Pi Valley
  • Dogtown Creek
  • Caldor area east of Omo Ranch
  • Pi’Pi area to NS road. 
  • Grizzly Flats/Somerset – all roads off of Grizzly Flat Rd., east of Mt. Aukum Rd. in Somerset(Known as Four Corners) into Grizzly Flats Proper
  • Happy Valley – All roads off of Happy Valley Rd, east of Mt. Aukum Rd. in Somerset to Sciaroni

EVACUATION WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT for the following area:

  • Omo Ranch Proper
  • Omo Ranch East
  • Omo Ranch South

EVACUATION CENTERS:

  • An evacuation center has been established at Diamond Springs Fire Hall. 3734 China Garden Rd. Diamond Springs, CA 95619.

ANIMAL EVACUATION CENTERS:

  • El Dorado County Animal Services: Call (530)-621-5795 (Small animals)

Contact Information

Information Line530-303-2455
Media Contact530-497-0315

Agency Information

El Dorado National Forest100 Forni Road Placerville California 95667530-303-2455https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7801/
El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office(530) 621-5655https://www.edcgov.us/Government/sheriff/
Pioneer Fire District(530) 620-4444http://pioneerfire.org/

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