The brave firefighters battling the dangerous and fast-moving fires in Northern California put their lives on the line to protect local communities from the historic flames recently seen in the region. But there’s now question as to how forest service management is handling these fires and whether strategies implemented during the Caldor Fire actually slowed containment efforts and added to the devastation.
60 Minutes recently released a damning investigation that showed how the U.S. Forest Service mismanaged the response at the beginning of the Caldor Fire, which allowed the flames to devastate the community of Grizzly Flats, along with other communities in the Sierra.
“In our opinion, they did nothing to put the fire out,” said Candace Tyler, who lost her home in the fire, in an interview with 60 Minutes.
The investigation into the fire concluded several key mistakes by Forest Service officials, including not keeping roads serviceable in order to access the fire when it began. Many of the roads in the Eldorado National Forest were impassable, making it impossible for firefighters to battle the flames.
Another crucial mistake came in the early hours of August 15, 2021, the first day of the fire. At 1:43 am, when the fire was still small, the Forest Service shut down operations for the night, losing critical leverage in the growth of the flames. A number of local firefighters who were on the scene voiced their displeasure of this decision to 60 Minutes, but would not go on camera in fear of losing their jobs.
Watch the full investigation from 60 Minutes:
The Caldor Fire burned 221,835 acres between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe over a two-month span, including the destruction of more than 1,000 structures. Much of the destruction is still being rebuilt today.