EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS SF) — Caltrans closed a 40-mile stretch of Highway 50 in El Dorado County Friday afternoon due to safety concerns over the still-growing Caldor Fire as more evacuation orders were issued.
Caltrans said the closure commenced at 4:30 p.m. for the stretch of the highway running from Sly Park Road exit in Pollock Pines to Twin Bridges. The highway will remain open to local residents between the Meyers area and Twin Bridges, but those residents will have to provide identification and proof of residency.
No traffic will be allowed past Twin Bridges, authorities said.
On Friday afternoon, new evacuation orders were issued for Silver Fork Road in Kyburz east to Twin Bridges as well as in a line extending north from Twin Bridges to the Placer County line and south to the Amador County line.
Mandatory evacuations are also in place between Sly Park and Strawberry.
The agency initially tweet the closure would be at 4 p.m., but later pushed it back to 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon due to the high winds forecast in the area.
— Caltrans District 3 (@CaltransDist3) August 20, 2021
There had been speculation earlier in the week that the fast-moving wildfire that grew so explosively on Tuesday might force part of the highway to be closed.
The Caldor Fire in the Sierra Nevada grew again overnight and has now consumed over 73,000 acres, fire officials said Friday.
Cal Fire officials also warned that there was a Red Flag Warning for the area of the fire on Saturday, including gusty winds that could spur more rapid growth.
#RT @CAL_FIRE: RT @NWSSacramento: ⚠️Red Flag Warning is in effect from 11am – 8pm Saturday for the vicinity of the #CaldorFire. Gusty winds & dry conditions may lead to rapid spread of active wildfire.
Be sure to take action immediately if told to evac… pic.twitter.com/FxhTT7IBQH
— CAL FIRE PIO (@CALFIRE_PIO) August 20, 2021
The fire which began in the Cosumnes River Canyon area of the El Dorado National Forest has destroyed 104 structures, Cal Fire said in a Friday morning update. The number of damaged structures was still undetermined and fire officials expect the number of damaged and destroyed structures to increase once crews are fully able to assess the damage.
Nearly 7,000 structures are threatened by the wildfire, which is still at zero containment as of Friday morning. Some 23,000 have been evacuated from the Caldor Fire and fire officials said many may not be able to return for at least two weeks.
CALDOR FIRE: Incident Information, Evacuations, Maps
Current mandatory evacuations in El Dorado County include:
- 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 Hwy 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.
- 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.
The latest evacuations warnings for El Dorado County and Amador County can be found here.
Overnight, there were continued short-range spot fires occurring in steep drainages, Cal Fire said. With the historic drought conditions, there are heavy dead and downed fuels through the fire area.
The USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region has announced temporary closure of nine national forests in Northern California, set to go in effect August 22 at 11:59 p.m. through September 6. An emergency closure of the El Dorado National Forest has been in effect since Tuesday and will remain until September 30.
The Caldor Fire Incident Management Team Friday expressed appreciation for the outpouring of support for firefighters and evacuated residents, but said unsolicited donation items are not needed at this time and can unintentionally overwhelm relief locations. This is especially the case when donating food since their bases are regulated by local health and safety ordinances, as well as strict adherence to COVID-19 regulations, officials said.
Residents who wish to make donations were encouraged to contact your local relief organizations of choice to see if they are accepting donations. Recommendations would be the Red Cross and El Dorado Community Foundation.