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 Thursday night, the blaze had burned 210,893 acres, according to to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The fire is 27% contained.
Those figures continued to trend in a positive direction. The blaze consumed only 643 acres during a 12-hour stretch Thursday, a considerable drop from the 2,328 acres it burned the previous 12 hours. Slightly more than a quarter of the containment that crews have gained has occurred since Tuesday night.
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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
Is Kirkwood Mountain Resort safe? — Update: 6 a.m.
Fire officials said that one of the weekend’s top priorities is to keep the fire from reaching the Kirkwood Mountain Resort and its surrounding cabins. Helicopter and hand crews were deployed to control spot fires and clear vegetation.
Crews also lit back burns and toppled trees just south of Christmas Valley to keep falling any falling embers from igniting as quickly.
— Maggie Angst