September 18, 2021

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Forecast for strong winds prompts closure of Highway 50 near Caldor Fire – Wildfire Today

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8:27 p.m. PDT August 20, 2021

Caldor Fire map
Caldor Fire map. The red dots represent heat detected by an aircraft at 2:48 p.m. PDT August 20, 2021. The fire perimeter was mapped earlier.

With strong winds in the forecast for Saturday officials have closed a portion of Highway 50 near the Caldor Fire which has burned over 75,000 acres 18 miles southwest of Lake Tahoe in California.

The closure began at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Highway 50 will be closed in both directions from the Sly Park Road exit to Twin Bridges. It will be open between Meyers and Twin Bridges for local residents only who reside between Meyers and Twin Bridges. These residents will be subject to providing identification and proof of residency. No traffic will be allowed west of Twin Bridges. (This information was acquired at 7 p.m. PDT Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, and could change.)

To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Caldor Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.

At 3 p.m. Friday the north edge of the Caldor Fire was about a half mile south of the highway. (See the map above.) A Red Flag Warning will be in effect Saturday from 11 a.m. through 8 p.m. The weather forecast for Saturday at 4,600 feet is for southwest and west-southwest winds beginning at 8 a.m. increasing in strength by 11 a.m. to 16 mph gusting to 25 mph, or 30 mph in some areas. The relative humidity will drop to 25 percent or lower. Skies will be clear with a high of 75 degrees.

Strong winds with no cloud cover and 25 percent humidity could push the fire to Highway 50 and possibly across the roadway. However a dense smoke layer could reduce solar preheating of the fuels and attenuate the spread somewhat. The Hot-Dry-Windy Index for Saturday predicts the area will be below the 50th percentile, which would not indicate extreme spread of a fire. This weather event will be a good test of the Index.

Many areas are under evacuation orders. InciWeb has the details.

On Friday the fire activity increased after noon when the wind began coming out of the south at 6 to 10 mph gusting to 23.

The fire spread is being driven by a heavy component of dead and down fuels and drought-stressed vegetation. Live fuels are cured to levels normally seen in late September, and the vegetation is extremely receptive to spotting. Fuel moistures are historically low.

Fire officials have documented the destruction of 118 residences.

Resources assigned to the fire include 18 crews, 109 fire engines, and 13 helicopters for a total of 1,118 personnel.

USFS engine crews on the initial attack of the Caldor Fire
USFS engine crews on the initial attack of the Caldor Fire, August 14, 2021. USFS photo.

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