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Team of firefighters dug in and protected Camp Sacramento from the Caldor Fire’s fury


Crews save Camp Sacramento from California's Caldor Fire | The Sacramento  Bee

The city of Sacramento’s century-old family camp in the Eldorado National Forest withstood the Caldor Fire and remained standing Monday, even while cabins and other structures burned on the other side of Highway 50.

It was a really close call. The Sacramento Bee’s reporter and photographer discovered that the fire had advanced to within feet of some of Camp Sacramento’s structures, which are located on the south side of Highway 50 just shy of Echo Summit, roughly 90 miles east of the city.

As the fire surged toward Lake Tahoe, a Cal Fire unit protected the city’s campsite all day Sunday and into the night. Monday morning, the crew was still out there hosing out smoldering portions of the earth around the camp.

A Cal Fire team from Santa Clara, Tuolumne, and Calaveras counties made their stand at the camp while the fire spread on both sides of Highway 50. The Caldor Fire, which had burned 177,260 acres as of Monday morning, has destroyed at least a dozen cabins on the north side of Highway 50. But across the road, a five-engine squad halted the fire’s approach only feet below Camp Sacramento’s wooden cottages.

The city operates the camp under a lease with the Forest Service, and it has been a popular vacation destination for generations of Sacramento area children, parents, and grandparents – a rustic, old-school sanctuary known for singalongs, s’mores, arts and crafts, archery, and other activities.

“Wow. When The Bee informed Jackie Beecham, the city’s recreation manager, that the buildings were still standing, she exclaimed, “Wow.” Until that point, she had little information regarding the camp’s status other than a couple of photographs on social media indicating that the site was still intact. Officials at the camp posted on Facebook early Monday that they were still waiting for word on the facility’s fate.

The normal season for families at the camp concluded in early August. More than a week ago, the camp withdrew its personnel as a precaution and canceled post-season reservations.

The Santa Clara unit battalion chief, Cole Periera, said the troops began defending the campground at 8 a.m. Sunday and worked through the night. The employees, as well as all 61 cabins on the 14-acre property, remained on Monday morning.