Caldor Fire Recovery

Recovery after a major wildfire is a long term process. The first steps involve repairing areas damaged by fire suppression, and mitigating safety hazards such as  fire weakened trees, burning stump holes, damaged utilities, and hazmat concerns. 

Background:

The Caldor Fire was reported the evening of August 14, 2021 in the Middle Fork Cosumnes canyon. This fire was driven by winds and an extremely receptive fuel bed due to an extended drought. It expanded rapidly north and east and threatened over 30,000 structures and closing 3 major highways (50, 88 and 89). At over 219,000 acres the Caldor Fire encompassed or impacted the communities of Omo Ranch, Grizzly Flats, Sly Park, Pollock Pines, Strawberry, Kyburz, Phillips, Echo Summit, South Lake Tahoe, and Kirkwood and heavily impacted surrounding communities with evacuations and economic losses.  

The Caldor Fire is the largest fire in Eldorado National Forest history and the 2nd fire in California (after the Dixie Fire) to cross over the Sierra Nevada crest and burn  into the Lake Tahoe Basin. 

Disaster Area Declaration: On Sunday September 12th, 2021 President Biden declared the Caldor Fire as A Federal Disaster area.  This is the first Federal Declared wildfire in El Dorado County.  

Affected Forest Service Administrative Units:

  • Eldorado National Forest (approximately 167,000 acres) within the Placerville, Pacific and Amador Ranger Districts
  • Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (approximately 10,000 acres).

Current Situation:

After burning for over 60 days, the Caldor Fire reached 100 percent containment on October 21, 2021. Work is in progress repairing the over 400 miles of constructed line and 660 points impacted by suppression effort. 

Containment, Control and Out are 3 distinct phases.

  • Containment - For example, although the fire is contained, large diameter trees and stump holes will continue to smolder well into the winter months. Containment, in its simplest form, is a measure of line around the fire.
  • Controlled - This means fire managers are confident the fire is not likely to get outside the line. Some fires can linger at 100% control until winter rains or snow arrive and finally bury any and all smoldering logs, embers or ash. And even then, under the right conditions, fires can still show themselves once spring comes, snow melts and the tiniest of hot ember finds just enough air and fuel to show smoke. Rare as it might be, it does happen.
  • Out - When a fire is finally called out, it means it’s out. No hot embers, no smoke and no fire within the perimeter. Controlled and out are two different things.

Closures remain in place not only for the safety of firefighters while they conduct repair operations, but for the safety of the public. Weakened trees, damaged roads and other hazards increase following a wildfire. Closures allow land management agencies to assess the situation and develop plans for future restoration. 

The Eldorado National Forest staff are working closely with the Counties, State and Federal agencies and other partners to assess the scale and scope of the damage and to map out a path for recovery.  

Updates to this site will be made, as more information and resources are identified. 

Topics

Please select from the following options to learn more.

Recreation Residences Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Questions and answers for Recreation Residence permittees affected by the Caldor Fire.

Caldor Fire Incident Information - 2021

For Caldor Fire information such as; fire updates, maps, evacuation information, etc. go to the Caldor Fire Inciweb site. Communications were also distributed through multiple digital and social media sites.

Caldor Fire and Forest Information: (530) 644-2324 Placerville Ranger District Office

Fire Suppression Repair

The suppression of the Caldor Fire has involved the clearing of vegetation and the disturbance of soil across the landscape. There is a need to protect those damaged areas and retain soil and vegetation productivity through repair of fire lines and other infrastructure damaged in the fire suppression activities.

Repairs for the Caldor Fire will occur on fire lines, drop points, safety zones, staging areas, spike camps, helispots, stream crossings, roads, water drafting locations, trails, and at all facilities used by suppression resources if damage has occurred.

The objective of the fire suppression repair is to place areas disturbed by fire suppression activities into a condition that will not negatively affect natural and cultural resources and will not contribute to excessive erosion and sedimentation on the landscape. This needs to be done in a manner which does not compromise public and firefighter safety.

BAER - Burned Areas Emergency Response

After a large wildfire, special actions may be necessary to provide for public safety and protect critical natural and cultural resources on National Forest System (NFS) lands. For example, loss of vegetation exposes soil to erosion, runoff may increase and cause flooding, and sediment may move downstream damaging roads and infrastructure or put endangered species and cultural resources at-risk. The Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program addresses these situations on NFS lands with the goal of guarding the safety of Forest visitors and employees and protecting federal property, and critical natural or cultural resources from further damage.

Requesting Access to your Recreation Residence if Impacted by Caldor Fire

When/how can I access my recreation residence?

Hazards resulting from the fire, such as standing or downed burned trees, damaged utility lines or other structures, damaged roads or other infrastructure, along with firefighting personnel, equipment, and containment lines, are still present on the landscape.  The permittee requesting access must be aware and acknowledge the risk associated with entering a recently burned area.

In an effort to streamline the process, tract representatives for many of the affected tracts are already working with Forest Service permit administrators to facilitate the Restricted Use Permit (FS-7700-48) for permittee access. Check with your tract representative for information. 

Please understand that even if access is granted, there are still activities related to the fire fighting and recovery effort being conducted, such as hazard tree felling, mopping up hotspots, utility line restoration, etc.  Access routes may experience significant delays or partial closures while this important work is being conducted. 

STEP 1: To apply for a Restricted Use Permit, fill out the Caldor Fire Application for Restricted Use Permit. 

If your recreation residence is located outside the Caldor Fire or you have other questions, please contact your permit administrator

STEP 2: Authorization: The District Ranger or Forest Supervisor will review and, if authorized, will email a signed Caldor Fire Emergency Closure Exemption Permit (Form FS-7700-48).

Recreation Residence Clean-Up and Debris Removal

The destruction of buildings from the fire has made hazardous materials (in the form of ash and other debris) that are a threat to humans and the environment. This debris may be dangerous and must be dealt with a certain way to keep the public and the environment safe. Cabin owners are responsible for debris removal from recreation residences that burned.

Rebuilding Process for Special Use Permittees -- Recreation Residences & other Infrastructure on National Forest System Lands

What is the process for rebuilding my recreation residence or other permitted structure?

Guidance will be provided that will help to answer some of your questions, including; what happens next, can we rebuild, can we transfer/sell our permit if our cabin burned, when can we access our cabin, does the permit get extended, do we still have to pay fees if we can’t use the site, what if I don’t want to rebuild and others.  Forest Service staff are working on guidance specific to the Caldor Fire and will be providing that information soon.  Once finalized, the information will be shared with recreation residence permittees and posted to this page as soon as it’s available. 

Recreation Use and Status

The ENF Caldor Fire Area Closure Forest Order 03-21-21 is in effect through March 22, 2021  for public and first responder safety, suppression repair and Burned Area Emergency Response activities. The closure will limit the public's exposure to fire danger, hazards following the fire, and activities related to fire recovery efforts.  The closure also reduces the risk of additional fires starting in other areas of the forest when first responders are limited in the ability to respond to any new emergencies.  This includes roads and trails.

The Forest Supervisor will continue to review the conditions on the Eldorado National Forest and the Caldor Fire area. The Forest Order may be adjusted in the future to reduce the closure for appropriate areas.

Many developed recreation sites will likely not reopen until next summer.  Even without the impact of the Caldor Fire, these sites would have typically been in the process of closing prior to the winter season. 

Other Private Property Assistance

Assistance from multiple agencies with private property concerns outside of federal land will be coordinated through El Dorado County. Contact 530-621-5101 for more information about these services as they become available. This El Dorado County Caldor Fire Recovery web page will be updated when new information is available: 

Postfire Restoration

Links





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/eldorado/home/?cid=fseprd952172