What started as a little blaze last weekend in El Dorado County, California, has turned into a town-gobbling inferno. The Caldor Fire tore through the 1,200-person town of Grizzly Flats, leaving not much more than the elementary school play structure, then headed for Highway 50. As of Wednesday evening, the fire had grown to more than 30,000 acres, shot smoke plumes through the sky and was 0% contained.
At least two people were seriously injured in Grizzly Flats, which is about 60 miles east of Sacramento. More than 20,000 people have evacuated from the wider area. The Caldor Fire’s long evacuation list keeps expanding.
The fire’s growth has been immense, doubling in size from Tuesday to Wednesday. Extreme dryness combined with southwest winds are to blame for the unprecedented wildfire behavior, says Cal Fire.
“We know this fire has done things that nobody could have predicted, but that’s how firefighting has been in the state this year,” said El Dorado National Forest Supervisor Chief Jeff Marsolais in a Tuesday briefing. More than 600 fire personnel are battling the blaze.
Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for El Dorado County on Tuesday morning. This will help California access federal funds to fight the fire. Now the Caldor has joined the list of other California wildfires which may require federal funds, including the Monument Fire in Trinity County, the enormous Dixie Fire in Butte, Lassen, Plumas and Tehama counties.
Officials are still investigating what caused the Caldor Fire. It’s too soon to guess how many structures will be lost or damaged. CalFire estimated that the Caldor will be fully contained by August 21. Meanwhile, medical centers are already overloaded, and medical personnel are worried about people with COVID-19 having to evacuate from the area. At Marshall Hospital in Placerville, workers are trying desperately to reserve enough space for severe COVID cases and casualties from the fire.
Lead image via InciWeb