The speed of the Caldor Fire continued to slow down Thursday night into Friday morning, and the air quality improved for fire crews who have inhaled smoke for weeks.
As of Friday morning, the blaze had burned 212,907 acres, according to to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The fire is 29% contained.
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Into the Top 20 — Update: 10:35 a.m.
The total number of structures destroyed by the Caldor Fire stood at 857 through Friday morning, making it the state’s 20th-most destructive fire in recorded history.
According to Cal Fire, the blaze would have to destroy 98 more structures to move past the 1999 Jones Fire in Shasta County (954); the 2020 August Complex Fire in Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity, Tehama, Glenn Lake and Colusa counties (935); and the 2015 Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties (921) on the list.
The Camp Fire in Butte County in November 2018 destroyed 18,804 structures and is No. 1. It is one of 16 fires in state history — all since 1991 — to destroy at least 1,000 structures.
A positive trend — Update: 9 a.m.
The fire expansion figures continued to trend in a positive direction. The blaze burned 2,648 acres over a 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m. Friday, one of the smallest 24-hour spreads during the 19-day-old fire. It has expanded 8,517 acres since Wednesday night, when a red-flag warning for bad fire conditions expired.
The containment lines doubled over the past week, and more than half of the overall containment of the blaze has taken place since 7 a.m. on Aug. 27. The fire was at 12% containment at the exact time last week.
The blaze consumed 643 acres during a 12-hour stretch Thursday.
Efforts to save Kirkwood Mountain Resort — Update: 8:50 a.m.
Fire officials said no significant growth happened in or around the Kirkwood Mountain Resort overnight into Friday, and the resort structures and cabins remained unscathed.
The fire remains to the north east of the resort entrance along Highway 88, and continued their work to bring flames under control north of the Caples Lake area.
On Thursday, helicopter and hand crews were deployed to control spot fires and clear vegetation, and crews lit back burns and toppled trees just south of Christmas Valley to keep falling any falling embers from igniting as quickly.
— Maggie Angst
Better weather — Update: 7 a.m.
Winds were barely detectable early Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service, a sharp change from 48 hours earlier when a red flag fire warning remained in effect because they were gusting up to 35-40 mph in most places and up to 50-60 mph in the ridges.
Those winds earlier in the week carried embers that caused spot fires nearly as soon as they landed on the bone-dry vegetation. The calmer winds have slowed the spread of embers, and Cal Fire said in its Thursday night statement that they took advantage by creating more containment lines.
“We’re taking advantage of good weather,” Cal Fire spokesman Parker Wilbourn said.
Smoke clearing? — Update: 6:30 a.m.
Forecasters were calling for widespread haze and smoke on Thursday, but the thickness of it may not be as bad as in previous days. The air quality at times during the Caldor Fire has been hazardous for people in the area, but on Friday morning the AQI readings were mostly in the green (healthy air) in El Dorado County. In South Lake Tahoe, the AQI at 6:35 a.m. was 87, considered moderately healthy.
The air quality is expected to move up and down throughout the day, as patches of haze move around the area.
More evacuations lifted — Update: 6:15 a.m.
Good news arrived for some who were evacuated and fire officials were hopeful other evacuation orders may be lifted or be reduced to warnings on Friday.
The following orders were lifted Thursday:
- West Omo: Omo Ranch Road between Fairplay Road and Slug Gulch Road and Grey Rock Road outside the fire line.
- Omo Ranch: The town of Omo Ranch south of the Middle Fork of the Consumnes River, Omo Ranch Road East from Slug Gulch Road, to 8N62 outside the fire line.
- Barney Ridge: North of Omo Ranch Road, east of 8N62 Road crossing both sides of Sopiago Creek, outside the fire line