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Home > Featured > Thermal camera shows Caldor Fire moving into Tahoe Basin

Thermal camera shows Caldor Fire moving into Tahoe Basin

By Kristen Hackbarth
The ALERTWildfire thermal camera atop the Heavenly Mountain Resort at South Lake Tahoe, California allows the fire to be monitored through the heavy smoke and provides early identification of spot fires as seen The bright areas of the photo shows the height of the heat signature, not necessarily the height of the flames. The photo shows the view on Sunday evening, Aug. 29 looking to the west.

One of two thermal cameras added to the ALERTWildfire camera network shows active flames from the Caldor Fire heading into the Lake Tahoe Basin. The thermal camera was placed on Friday at Angel’s Roost at the top of Heavenly Mountain Resort near Stateline to aid firefighters in seeing the fire through dense smoke.

Graham Kent is director of the Nevada Seismological Lab and University of Nevada, Reno lead of the ALERTWildfire program. He worked with DigitalPath, a Chico, California-based wireless internet provider to install the FLIR camera (forward-looking infrared).

“With only zero to quarter-mile visibility from the thick smoke, firefighters can’t get close to the fire with aircraft and can’t follow the progress of the fire to mount an attack,” Kent said. “These two cameras should give a good view through the smoke for fire managers. It’s important to identify early any spot fires that jump ahead of the main fire or the fire front as it changes direction.”

Live YouTube at WeatherNode shows the view of the fire from the  thermal camera. Additional views from the ALERTWildfire system are online here.

The second thermal camera in place for the Caldor Fire is on the Mt. Danaher ALERTWilfire site between Placerville and Pollock Pines, California.

The Caldor Fire has reached nearly 170,000 acres and is at 13% containment. It started Aug. 14 and the cause is under investigation.

Evacuations in the South Lake Tahoe area are underway, including parts of El Dorado County and Alpine County, with additional warnings issued at 9 p.m. Sunday night. Road closures include portions of Highway 50 and Highway 89 at the Highway 88 junction. The latest evacuation and closure announcements are available here.

It’s estimated more than 40,000 residents have had to leave the area. Dozens of homes in Grizzly Flats were destroyed.

Local sheriff’s offices are urging residents to register for CodeRED, a public alert system that uses geo-targeting to send urgent notifications to those in the area. Users can sign up for El Dorado County CodeRED at https://ready.edso.org/ or Amador County CodeRED at www.amadorsheriff.org/administration-division/codered.

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