The Eldorado National Forest’s century-old family camp, run by Sacramento, survived the Caldor Fire. It was still standing Monday, despite the fact that other buildings were destroyed on the other side.
It was a close call. A local reporter and photographer found that the fire had reached within feet of Camp Sacramento’s structures on the south side. 50 miles east of Echo Summit, approximately 90 miles, the report said.
Cal Fire personnel defended the campground throughout Sunday and into the night, as the fire raced towards Lake Tahoe. Monday morning, the crew was still there, hosing down the smoldering ground around the camp.
A Cal Fire team representing Santa Clara, Tuolumne and Calaveras made their presence known at the camp as the flames raged. Caldor Fire, which had 177,260 acres by Monday morning, destroyed at least 12 cabins along the north side 50. A five-engine crew stopped the fire from approaching just feet away from Camp Sacramento’s wooden cabins.
The city leases the camp to the Forest Service. It has been a favorite vacation spot for generations of Sacramento children and their grandparents.
When Jackie Beecham, city recreation manager, was told that the buildings were still standing, she said, “Wow”. She had no information on the status of the camp beyond photos shared via social media, which suggested that the property was still intact. On Monday, camp officials stated on Facebook that they still had not heard from the facility’s fate.
In early August, the camp‘s regular family season ended. As a precaution, the camp evacuated its staff more than a week before and canceled post-season reservations.
Santa Clara unit battalion commander Cole Periera said that the team began its defense of the camp at 8 a.m. on Sunday and continued through the night. Monday morning saw the crew still present, along with all 61 cabins on the 14-acre grounds.
The camp‘s fire reached the edges of the buildings “Boys Crews”, and “Craft Shack,” but the patio umbrellas and picnic tables outside the main lodge and the horseshoe pit were saved. The large dining hall, which was used to announce the beginning of meals by thousands of campers, was left unaltered.
The road was much worse, with the remains of over a dozen cabins having melted into piles. Some of the chimneys were still standing. Others were buried beneath their melted steel roofs.
The fire destroyed the Eldorado forest’s first run but did not reach the Sly Park educational center, a 50-year old campground and environmental learning site managed by the Sacramento County Office of Education. It is regularly visited by thousands middle school students annually.