Air Attack, Calming Aid Firefighters Fighting Wildfires Near Big Sur; Control increases to 25 percent – CBS San Francisco

CARMEL (CBS SF) – Hundreds of residents awoke Sunday morning hoping to return to their homes soon as firefighters brought a rare January wildfire under control that burned in the coastal mountains. beach near Big Sur.

With gusty winds dwindling the flames and the flames hitting furiously from the air, containment had increased to 25% early Sunday. The fire burned more than 1,000 acres and destroyed a structure.

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Cal Fire spokeswoman Cecile Juliette said: “The winds have died down and that has worked in our favor.

The emergence of a wildfire in January following rainy conditions in October and December surprised fire officials.

“The winds absolutely played a huge part in what happened last night. Juliette said we had gusts of up to 50 mph. “Things were so dry that it really allowed this fire to spread so quickly in the middle of winter.”

The blaze – which broke out near Palo Colorado Canyon just after 5 p.m. on Friday – forced about 500 people into mandatory evacuations. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

View Evacuation Area Map

The National Weather Service said that while Monterey County received sizable amounts of rain from late October through December, there was no measurable rainfall in January. They added that the fire area had little or no fire history.

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“The timing is pretty unique because in January we don’t usually have a lot of fires,” said Dr. Craig Clements, director of the Center for Wildfire Research at San Jose State. “Given the fact that we had no rain in January and we had a strong wind offshore, these are the conditions that lead to wildfires that usually occur in the fall and not in January. So it was just something of a surprise.”

Even assuming there was a lot of rain late last year, Clements said several years of extreme drought meant there was still a lot of dry fuel there.

“If we get our rainfall, our snow cover in the Sierra in February and March, then we can go back to normal,” he said.

Juliette said the blaze was a reminder that there is no longer a traditional bushfire season.

“It doesn’t make sense to treat fire season as something that happens only three months of the year,” Juliette said. worse.”

Because of the ongoing threat, people living in fire-prone areas should be alert and ready to evacuate at all times, Cal Fire said.

More than 250 firefighters from multiple agencies and volunteer groups, supported by water-dropping planes, battled the blaze.

Authorities were forced to close a section of Highway 1 and there is no scheduled time for reopening. The two-lane highway along Big Sur is at risk of closure due to fires and landslides caused by heavy rains that partially collapsed the roadway last year and 2017.

Evacuees shared on social media dramatic images of flames burning behind the iconic Bixby Bridge. The high concrete span has been the setting for many car commercials, movies and TV shows, most recently the HBO series “Big Little Lies”.

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© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Air Attack, Calming Aid Firefighters Fighting Wildfires Near Big Sur; Control increases to 25 percent – CBS San Francisco

Dustin Huang

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