August 14, 2021
The Caldor Fire started on August 14, 2021, near Little Mountain, south of Pollock Pines in El Dorado County, about two miles east of Omo Ranch and four miles south of Grizzly Flats. It initially burned slowly, where little attention was given to it because of other larger fires but exploded in size on August 16 due to high winds and high fuel loads in the area. By the night of August 16, it was 6,500 acres. On August 17 the fire grew to 30,000 acres as it expanded rapidly north and east, crossing the North Fork Cosumnes River and approaching Sly Park Reservoir. By August 20, the fire had burned nearly to Highway 50, forcing a closure of the highway.
Over the next few days, the fire crossed Highway 50 in the vicinity of Kyburz. Starting on August 27, winds drove the fire rapidly east towards the Lake Tahoe Basin, devastating the once picturesque backdrop to the historic Strawberry Lodge near the Twin Bridges area. By August 30, it had reached Echo Summit, less than 5 miles from South Lake Tahoe. While South Lake Tahoe remained at the evacuation warning stage during early morning briefings that day, the entire city of 22,000 people was ordered to evacuate at 10:59 AM. Due to the focused efforts of fire crews aggressively thinning nearby forests, reducing earlier crown fires (typically 100 – 150 feet flames) to surface fires (typically 15 feet flames) and developing a fire perimeter, evacuation orders were lifted about one week later.
By October 2, the fire was at 221,775 acres and 91% containment. By that date, 782 structures were destroyed, 81 structures damaged, with 35 structures still threatened. Staffing was still at 1,589 personnel, with ten helicopters assigned to the incident.
The Caldor Fire was fully contained on October 21, 2021