Exploding Caldor fire injures 2 people, destroys buildings in Northern California

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GRIZZLY FLATS CALIF. - AUG. 18, 2021. The Caldor Fire leaves a moonscape of burned forest, homes and vehicles in the unincorporated El Dorado community of Grizzly Flats on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
The Caldor fire leaves a moonscape of burnt forest, homes and vehicles in the unincorporated El Dorado community of Grizzly Flats on Aug. 18. (Luis Sinco)

A swiftly growing fire in Northern California's El Dorado County has injured two people and prompted evacuation orders, state fire officials said Tuesday.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, both people were civilians who were injured in the unincorporated Grizzly Flats area and required transport by air ambulance.

Updates on their conditions were not available.

The Caldor fire started Saturday and had grown to at least 6,500 acres by Tuesday morning, according to the most recent information from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, which tracks wildfires in the U.S.

Chris Vestal, a public information officer for the Caldor fire, said an updated, confirmed acreage total wasn't available Tuesday night, but said the fire saw explosive growth throughout the day.

"For people who are anywhere near this fire, or any fire, when that evacuation order comes, or even when that evacuation warning comes — it’s time to go," Vestal said. "We don’t take it lightly to evacuate areas. We don’t do it for fun. If you're trying to hang on, no. Just get out."

Evacuating when warnings and orders are issued helps the process run smoothly, avoids as much traffic congestion as possible and makes the environment safer for firefighters, he said.

The fire continued to burn uncontained Tuesday in a rugged, forested area of El Dorado County, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Flames destroyed an elementary school, a church and numerous structures, forcing thousands of rural residents to navigate a traffic jam to flee.

“We are still actively in a major firefight,” Cal Fire incident commander Dusty Martin said at a briefing Tuesday evening.

He added that the multiple fires burning in California were making it difficult to bring enough personnel and equipment to the region: “We are all competing for the same precious resources.”

Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for the following areas:

  • Pollock Pines east of Sly Park Road, south of Highway 50 up to Ice House Road and north of Mormon Emigrant Trail including Jenkinson/Sly Park Lake

  • All roads off Grizzly Flat Road, and east of Mount Aukum Road in Somerset into Grizzly Flats proper

  • All roads off Happy Valley Road, east of Mount Aukum Road in Somerset to Sciaroni

  • Leoni Meadows

  • Saw Town Creek

  • The Caldor area including North South Road

  • Dogtown Creek south of Caldor Road

  • Barney Ridge east of Omo Ranch Road

  • Omo Ranch Road to North South Road

  • Pi'Pi Valley up to Armstrong Hill

Evacuation warnings have been issued for four other areas and several shelters are open, including at Cameron Park Community Services District, 2502 Country Club Drive in Cameron Park.

People with small animals are being asked to call El Dorado County Animal Services at (530) 621-5795.

A large animal evacuation shelter is open at Amador County Fairgrounds, 18621 Sherwood St. in Plymouth. For more information on the large animal shelter, call (530) 621-5795 or (530) 647-6227.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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