By Velena Jones

POLLOCK PINES (CBS13) — A 40-mile stretch of Highway 50 in El Dorado County remains shut down Saturday morning due to safety concerns with the Caldor Fire. The closure stretches from Pollock Pines to Meyers near South Lake Tahoe.

“I’m not real happy. I only got the alert a few minutes ago and the highway is closed already,” Scott O’Neil said.

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O’Neil was one of the dozens of drivers traveling up Highway 50 toward Tahoe who were stopped at Pollock Pines Friday when the closure was put into place.

“I just drove through here, there is no serious situation on the highway,” he said. “They are closing the highway way too soon.”

O’Neil left his home in Twin Bridges to get a trailer with plans to go back home to pack and help his elderly neighbors evacuate. Now, he’s heading back down the hill unable to get home.

“The amount of area they are closing is pretty far and wide. I understand it’s out of an abundance of caution and everything else but people have to get their things and get out,” he said.

The 40-mile highway closure between Sly Park Road and the town of Meyers comes as Caltrans prepares for high winds this weekend with the potential to fan flames toward traffic.

“Given the forecast that we have for the weekend with wind gusts 25-35 miles per hour, we have no idea what that is going to do with the fire,” explained Steve Nelson, spokesperson for Caltrans.

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“It’s really kind of crazy right now,” said driver, Sam Stanford.

California Highway Patrol checkpoints will be staffed 24/7 to stop travelers from driving through the closures.

“Google Maps said it was open, so we trusted it. That means we are going to have to backtrack through 80,” Stanford said Friday evening.

While winds haven’t roared yet, Cal Fire was already seeing problems Friday.

“We started to receive debris on the freeway, making it dangerous for cars to pass. We are going to invest everything we can to hold the fire south of 50,” said Eric Schwarts, Cal Fire operations section chief.

The closure could bring negative financial impacts to the Tahoe region. A recent US Forest Service study found the economic impact of closing Highway 50 could cost South Lake Tahoe up to a million dollars a day.

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Velena Jones