LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) — Christmas Valley was still a priority Thursday for strike teams keeping the Caldor Fire that sparked days ago from jumping Highway 89 and heading towards homes.
Leroy Valdez with Squaw Valley Fire was on the front lines Thursday preventing ladder fuels from lighting up trees.READ MORE: Video Released Of Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting Of Tahoe Park Resident Who Shot At Authorities
“It got a little hot there,” he said, after getting close to a tree that quickly became engulfed in flames.
For him, this firefight is more than getting the flames out—it’s about defending his own backyard.
“It’s definitely too close to home,” he said.
He’s part of a strike team lighting a back fire operation, slowly taking these flames south on Highway 89 and away from nearby neighborhoods.
The daylight showed giant funnels of smoke pouring from the forested hillside, but despite the ominous scene, Cal Fire says lighter winds were working in their favor and providing some much-needed relief.READ MORE: Coroner Identifies Passenger Killed In Wrong-Way DUI Crash On Highway 99
Clear skies could be seen along the water on 89 near Tahoe Pines, and back on the front lines crews are cautiously optimistic. But there’s still too much fire near homes to be comfortable.
Conditions were particularly challenging in the remote forests southeast of Lake Tahoe, where rugged terrain was not safe to put crews on the fire’s edge.
Now, Valdez and his team hope this will keep the fire from South Lake Tahoe and the tens of thousands of businesses and homes that surround it.
“It’s always in the back of your mind, you live in the mountains you kind of have to prepare for that,” he said.
The red flag warning expired Wednesday night, which is good news for Cal Fire which says this has been a wind-driven fire.MORE NEWS: Looting Suspect Accused Of Dozens Of Thefts Arrested In South Lake Tahoe
Cal Fire says now they’re getting more resources in to relieve some of these crews who have been on the ground for weeks.