Highway 50 West fire forces evacuations

Fire officials ordered residents of Kyburz and Silver Fork in California to evacuate Wednesday night because of a wildfire in the Eldorado National Forest near Wrights Lake Road.

The fire forced the California Highway Patrol to close Highway 50 West at 4:50 p.m. west of Strawberry. It is being called the Fred fire.

"Currently, there is no estimation for reopening (of the road) due to the wildland fire," said Lt. Bob Jones, area commander for the South Lake Tahoe CHP.

By 6:30 p.m. the fire had burned 75 acres about one mile west of Wrights Lake Road between Kyburz and Strawberry.

"We expect it to bump into Granite Springs Road, which is parallel to Highway 50," U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Rita Yates said. "It's kind of easy if we can hold it. They have a lot of resources on order, but travel time is the issue."

By 6:45 p.m., the emergency dispatch center at South Lake called on volunteers from Fallen Leaf Fire Department to join a strike team.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but a report from a fire manager indicated power lines had come down in the area, Yates said.

Also Wednesday, firefighters entered their second week of fighting another wildfire that is burning 20 miles south of Wrights Lake. Called the Power fire, it was a 500-acre blaze which high winds and low humidity turned into a 3,000-acre fire Tuesday night.

The fire is burning 17 miles east of Pioneer, between Bear River Reservoir and Salt Springs Reservoir. It is headed west toward Highway 88, but its eastern boarder did burn about 50 acres of the Mokelumne Wilderness in Alpine County.

"We don't have imminent structures threatened," Yates said. "But we do have structure protections in place at Bear River Reservoir at the resort and 48 summer cabins there, which were mandatorily evacuated."

The Power fire, named because of a nearby hydroelectric powerhouse, was 10 percent contained Wednesday night. Fire officials estimated that it would be fully contained Oct. 30.

Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com.


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