Carson Valley residents may get a break from the smoke that turned the sky an angry red and prompted the streetlights to come on early on Tuesday.
National Weather Service forecasters said a shift in the wind accompanying the arrival of a cold front could bring clearer skies and cooler temperatures Thursday.
But the explosion of a forest fire south of Pollock Pines, just 33 miles southwest of Gardnerville as the crow flies, will continue to generate smoke that could make its way over the Sierra crest and into the Valley.
As of Wednesday morning, the Calder Fire has grown to nearly 55,000 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
There’s no containment as the fire burns toward Sly Park and Highway 50. A red flag warning was in effect for most of Wednesday with shifting winds. Two people were hospitalized among evacuating residents, who packed narrow roads through the region in order to flee the blaze.
The fire could close Highway 50 at some point, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Air quality in Carson Valley went from relatively clear on Tuesday morning to hazardous by 5 p.m., according to a monitor at Ranchos Aspen Park due mostly to the Calder Fire.
Tuesday’s red flag warning prompted NV Energy to alert residents between Genoa and Clear Creek of the first public safety outage in the region. Designed to prevent power lines from setting additional fires, the company declared an imminent outage in Nevada’s oldest town that would start 11 a.m. There was a trailer full of ice and a portable cell tower set up at the Genoa Volunteer Fire Department on Tuesday as the company prepared to provide residents with cell phone charging and Wi-Fi.
The company issued an alert it was highly likely the lights would go out at 11 a.m. Robocalls made to power customers between Genoa and Clear Creek said that the outage could last until Wednesday night.
But forecast gusty winds never really developed, and the outage was delayed to 4-8 p.m. and then canceled around 5 p.m., when East Fork firefighters were breaking down the portable cell tower on the fire department’s front lawn.
While smoke from the Calder contributed to the apocalyptic feel in Carson Valley, the anticipated outage was entirely due to the wind which was supposed to arrive before lunchtime and last through 11 p.m.
On Wednesday morning Highway 395 north of Reno was still closed by the Dixie Fire, which continues to burn toward Susanville.
Douglas County commissioners on Thursday are scheduled to discuss waiving building fees for owners of the 11 homes that were destroyed and two damaged in the 68,637-acre Tamarack Fire.
The cost to the county is estimated at $100,000 if all the displaced residents decide to rebuild.
A small fire started by lightning in Fay Luther Canyon near Jobs Peak on Friday night was doused by Tuesday. A team of smoke jumpers was helicoptered in to extinguish a burning tree.