EMIGRANT GAP (CBS SF) — Bob Newburg was expecting a Labor Day weekend enjoying the solitude and beauty of the Tahoe National Forest. Then the orange glow on the horizon began moving toward his campsite.
Newberg joined dozens of other campers on Monday, fleeing a rapidly moving wildfire near the North Fork Campgrounds in the steep canyons along the American River in the Tahoe National Forest.
“We’ve been watching for about an hour and a half,” he told CBS as he sat in his camper on the evacuation route. “The Placer County Sheriff came by and said evacuate and we’re leaving.”
Inna Gladko had a similar story.
“There were screaming — ‘Everybody has to get,'” she said. “I started freaking out.”
Many campers did not even pack-up their campsites. They jumped into their vehicles and fled to safety leaving behind tents, coolers, grills and other gear.
The U.S. Forest Service originally reported that the blaze had charred 650 acres, but that number was revised down to 500 acres early Tuesday. It was just 10 percent contained and burning in extremely inaccessible terrain.
On Monday, two DC-10 tankers were being used to dump retardant on the blaze and a fleet of helicopters were dumping water.
According to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, the fire has forced the following roads and campgrounds to be closed for the time being:
- Yuba Gap Road at I-80
- Emigrant Gap Road at I-80
- Crystal Lake Road at Lake Valley Road
- Onion Valley Campground
- North Fork Campground
- Tunnel Mills Campground
- Lodgepole Campground
- Silvertip Campground
- Sunflower Campground
Placer County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Andrew Scott said the Onion Valley, North Fork, Tunnel Mills, Lodge Pole, Silver Tip and Sunflower campgrounds had all been fully evacuated and closed by Tuesday morning.