When the Caldor Fire descended down Echo Summit into the Tahoe Basin Monday night, it seemed like a certainty that the windy forecast would send the fire towards the homes of the greater South Lake Tahoe area. More than a day later, the fire has been pushed south of Meyers and South Lake Tahoe, a seemingly impossible task by fire crews assigned to the region and the best possible outcome for this dangerous fire.
So how have they accomplished this? A lot of hard work, detailed suppression tactics and, quite frankly, a little luck. Homes are certainly not out of harm’s way yet, but here’s how firefighters have kept the flames away from homes.
A well known firefighting tactic of bulldozing has been utilized extensively near homes in Meyers and South Lake Tahoe, where fuels are from the area and a pile of dirt is built up for nothing to burn. Double dozer lines were completed surrounding the neighborhoods in Meyers and along Pioneer Road, successful limiting the fire’s growth past the line. Wednesday plans call for more dozer lines further into South Lake Tahoe and below Heavenly Mountain Resort. Here’s a map of the dozer lines completed:
The dozer lines have provided crucial protection for these homes. Access has also been important. There have been reports of a little slopover at Highway 89 and Christmas Valley Road, but firefighters have easy access to these areas via the evacuated neighborhood roads and can quickly stomp out these spot fires.
Meanwhile, firefighters continue to work extensively on the fire near the flanks of Echo Summit, which could provide crucial to ensure the fire doesn’t creep into the region from a different line. Crews have been dealing with falling trees, high winds and limited escape routes. A few structures have burned in this high-elevation area but the efforts from fire crews have kept the fire from moving down towards Upper Echo Lake.
Near Kirkwood, officials utilized air crews throughout the region Tuesday, with plans to continue that tactic moving forward Wednesday. The fire continues to be “hung up” just west of the Kirkwood entrance, with small spot fires being stomped out by nearby crews.
The Red Flag Alert continues into the afternoon on Wednesday and firefighting efforts will be ramped up to battle the forecasted winy conditions. Homes in Meyers and South Lake Tahoe remain the priority and there will be a line of fuel breaks and firefighters awaiting the flames as it approaches Heavenly.
While we’re certainly not out of harm’s way yet, firefighting efforts have proved crucial on the Caldor Fire. Watch this video to get a breakdown of the fire movement: