The Caldor Fire has grown more than 7,000 acres since Thursday, and has now burned more than 143,951 acres, CalFire officials announced Friday. Firefighters continue to battle the Northern California blaze but high winds, low humidity and dry conditions have allowed fire to spread, jumping Highway 50, which runs between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.
“It’s a little discouraging when we get fire behavior like this that we can’t control,” CalFire spokesperson Josh Vickers told CBS affiliate KOVR. “What you’re feeling right here is 20-25 mph and the fuels are so dry its getting up into the timber.”
The Caldor Fire has blazed largely out of control since it began on August 14. More than 3,204 CalFire personnel, including engines, water tenders and hand crews, have been assigned to the flame. Officials estimate that the fire will be fully contained by September 8— later than the initial August 31 estimate — but CalFire said gusty winds have continued to spread the flames, threatening 18,000 structures in its path.
Vickers said that the combined wind and dry fuel conditions allowed the fire to spark across Highway 50, ground firefighters desperately tried to keep Wednesday. Crews are still working to lay control lines, which should keep the fire contained to El Dorado County.
On Sunday, the U.S. Forest Service closed nine national forests, including Tahoe National Forest and Plumas National Forest, to prevent having to evacuate people as the flames continue to spread across the northeast forests.
Across the state, 13 other fires continued to spark massive evacuations of California residents. The Caldor Fire is the third largest in the state, with the Dixie Fire, California’s largest, continuing to raze through 749713 acres. As of Friday, 41,200 residents have been evacuated from the path of an active fire, according to California’s Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
Only four miles from Caldor’s evacuation zones, the D’Agostini Ranch has opened its doors for evacuees with nowhere else to go. Evacuee Spencer Triebull-Baireuther told CBS affiliate KOVR that the residents sheltering at the ranch have bonded together as they wait for news of their homes.
“We’ve all had this shared trauma. We’ve all had the threat of our homes or the fact that our homes are gone to really forge those lasting bonds,” said Triebull-Baireuther.