Caldor Fire Reaches Sierra at Tahoe

One of California’s largest active wildfires made a dramatic run to the east Sunday, crossing into Sierra at Tahoe’s West Bowl before reaching the front side of the mountain. A Forest Service webcam on the Tahoe King drive terminal showed fire surrounding the summit Sunday evening, with flames at one point directly underneath the Grandview Express. Infrared mapping from just before 7:00 pm detected heat in large swaths of the ski area but not in the base area or back side.

Earlier in the day, the resort posted that the fire was approaching and crews and equipment were in place to try and protect structures. “Please send your prayers for protection for all fire personnel as they continue the battle to protect our Playground,” wrote Sierra at Tahoe.

The mountain operates six Yan fixed grip and three Doppelmayr detachable chairlifts on 2,000 acres of terrain. The Caldor Fire, which ignited August 14th, has burned more than 170,000 acres.

By morning, reporters on the scene said no major structures were lost in the base area and lifts appeared to be intact.

26 thoughts on “Caldor Fire Reaches Sierra at Tahoe

  1. Danny Bryant August 30, 2021 / 7:05 am

    As of last night, it was about a mile from Silver Lake by CA SR 88. It is creeping closer to Kirkwood Valley. :-(


    • Danny Bryant August 30, 2021 / 7:10 am

      So much loss of vegetation that will take decades to recover. And, people losing their livelihood and homes. :-( Plus, the added chance of mud and rock slides on US 50 during the winter and spring.


    • julestheshiba August 30, 2021 / 8:48 am

      In a way the loss of vegetation is a good thing because the forests are severely overgrown and the question was not will a mega fire happen but when. The drought and dryness only add to how overgrown the forests are. Our years of not doing controlled burns and putting fires out immediately are coming to bite us in the ass.

      Liked by 6 people

      • Peter L Burkett August 30, 2021 / 10:12 am

        Would you still be making this ridiculous statement if your home had just been incinerated.


        • Eric G August 30, 2021 / 10:40 am

          There is a risk to living in an area where historically fires burn. While it’s unfortunate that folks have lost their homes, the statement that was made is spot-on.

          Liked by 3 people

      • Donald Reif August 30, 2021 / 12:34 pm

        It’s all about rejuvenating the ecosystem.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Danny Bryant August 30, 2021 / 12:40 pm

        The USFS and Cal-Fire state this area has not burned since 1940.

        Liked by 1 person

      • nvskier August 30, 2021 / 3:51 pm

        To a certain extent, yes, but this fire has burned with pretty high intensity in spots. The healthy type of fire that clears the undergrowth is fine but when there is a lot of dry undergrowth combined with the winds we’re seeing, the fire burns too hot and kills the trees completely and they don’t grow back. Look at the Angora Fire burn scar and the Gondola Fire burn scar at Heavenly. Those are both 15+ years old now and not much has recovered because the intensity of those fires was so great that none of the trees survived. Thankfully we’ve seen a mix with this fire so some of the forest may be okay here but there’s going to be a lot of spots where it didn’t make it. We’ll just have to wait and see.


        • julestheshiba August 30, 2021 / 9:29 pm

          no, we mostly need to replant these areas. Healthy fire is great and all but in an area where the fire has not burned it has to be either cleared manually or this has to happen. I am really not happy about the loss of homes and when I meant to let it burn I meant uninhabited areas. If it did not happen today it will happen tommorow. We have put ourselves in this situation and now getting out of it is harder than ever.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Truckee Local August 30, 2021 / 7:44 am

    As of this morning (August 30th), the control objective for the eastern-ish flank of the fire is to keep it from crossing Highway 88 toward Kirkwood. But it’s getting close. This fire map appears to show most of the resort, including the base, as being within the fire perimeter:


    • Danny Bryant August 30, 2021 / 12:43 pm

      I’m not sure where you got your information, but it is about one mile west of Silver Lake. (zoom in on the map for details; the fire to the right on the map this fire is the Tamarack Fire that burned in late-June–early July.


      • Truckee Local August 30, 2021 / 2:37 pm

        Sorry, I was unclear. I was referring to Sierra-at-Tahoe being within the fire perimeter, not Kirkwood.


  3. Truckee Local August 30, 2021 / 8:38 am

    There is a camera mounted on what appears to be the top of the Tahoe King lift. The feed is available here:

    Whoever is controlling the camera has been panning it around in different directions, and there is no fire in the area right around the camera.


  4. Pete Bansen August 30, 2021 / 9:32 am

    It’s horrendous. Just glad that Vern Sprock (who built and operated Sierra Ski Ranch) is not here to see it.


  5. Enumclaw kid August 30, 2021 / 10:26 am

    This page is the best analysis I have found, and includes maps and a discussion of the fire in both the Kirkwood and Echo Summit / Meyers / South Lake Tahoe areas:

    Per another page that covered a fire briefing, there is concern about the fuel-heavy forested area between Martin’s Point and SR88 to the west, and, fuels in the forest north of SR88 (in the valley below) between the existing prescribed burn from two years ago and the current fire front.


  6. Danny Bryant August 30, 2021 / 12:47 pm

    To all the lift mechanics…what is the process to check to safety of the lifts due to the heat and/or possible fire damage? I know the electrical and other components (brittle bars, etc.) will need to be inspected, but will it have to be load tested and have each and every grip inspected? Would the haul rope need to be completely replaced?


    • pbropetech August 30, 2021 / 8:25 pm

      I thankfully have never had to deal with this sort of damage. My initial thoughts are as follows: Remove and inspect grips and carriers in any fire-affected zones. MRT and visually inspect the haul rope in the same areas. Haul rope replacement will depend on the degree of heat damage and results of the aforementioned tests. Replace any tower wiring and RPDs in those zones, and probably Yan brittle bars as they’re basically printed circuit boards and will probably have melted. Replace all sheaves in the area at a minimum (liners and bearings both), and probably pull down and re-bush any sheave assemblies in those areas- teflon-coated bushings will lose their wear surfaces, and Turcite bushings (used extensively in Yan assemblies) may melt even though they have higher heat tolerance. There’s probably more, especially if it’s a terminal rather than the line.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Myles Svec August 30, 2021 / 3:07 pm

    Hopefully the lifts, especially the detachable ones are not damaged, we all know that Sierra at Tahoe has had to replace their detaches once and I hope something similar does not happen.

    Other than that, I hope everyone is safe and is not hurt.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Eric G August 30, 2021 / 3:52 pm

    I find it sadly ironic that about a month ago I ran across the wildfire plan for Sierra-at-Tahoe and read the entire document. Now a few weeks after the resort is up in flames and the ski area had to put its plan into action.

    The work drafting this plan likely paid off. The document linked below talks about removing fuels around buildings to create defensible space. They also had plans to charge the snowmaking system and use it to protect buildings. They also benefited by having partnerships with the Forest Service and local fire authorities to use the large parking lots as a staging ground in the event of a wild fire. It’s worth reading and a great example of being prepared.

    Click to access Wildfireplan19.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Brian August 30, 2021 / 5:35 pm

    Looks like whatever is left of Iron Mountain is probably gone. Approaching Kirkwood, possibly Heavenly. Hope the winds shift. Sure would be nice if we could get some rain out west.


  10. Humoresque August 30, 2021 / 6:04 pm

    My house burnt down recently in CA (some years ago). Please be respectful and kind, as this is really sad to many of us :|

    Liked by 1 person

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