Grizzly Flats evacuees to return Sunday after Caldor Fire wiped out hundreds of homes, school


GRIZZLY FLATS, El Dorado County — A small Gold Country town ravaged during the first days of the Caldor Fire is close to reopening to its 1,200 residents, as fire and utility crews toiled Saturday to mop up the fire’s wreckage.

Officials with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office were preparing to allow evacuated residents of Grizzly Flats to return home in a staggered fashion beginning Sunday and likely into Monday.

Most of the rural town’s roughly 650 homes were destroyed in the Caldor Fire, as was the school, post office, church and fire station.

Meanwhile, fire crews continued to push their hard-won advantage against the blaze that ignited Aug. 14 a few miles south of Grizzly Flats and barrelled more than 30 miles to the edge of South Lake Tahoe.

Between Friday night and Saturday morning, firefighters kept Caldor stalled at 218,489 acres while increasing their containment to 60%, a 7% improvement in 12 hours. The fire, which now ranks as California’s 15th largest on record, has destroyed 782 homes and injured 15 people.

The drought-driven megafire forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate while threatening to reach Lake Tahoe, one of California’s most cherished jewels.