Soberanes Fire Nears 41,000 Acres, Still 18 Percent Contained

The deadly wildfire burning near Big Sur's coast that has destroyed 57 homes and is threatening 2,000 more is gradually moving south, fire officials said Monday. 

The Soberanes fire, which has been burning for 11 days, has torched nearly 41,000 acres and is still just 18 percent contained, according to Cal Fire officials on Monday evening.

Cal Fire is setting backfires in the north and east, trying to destroy the fire's fuel and protect homes.

"We light a small fire along the road or along a natural barrier, and that fire will suck into the main fire so we don't have this big raging fire coming down at us," Cal Fire Capt. Richard Cordova explained.

In addition to the 57 residences, 11 outbuildings have been destroyed in the blaze, Cal Fire said. Three other homes and two outbuildings have been damaged.

The blaze also is responsible for one death, a bulldozer operator working the fire line last week.

More people were evacuated late Sunday on the eastern side of the fire while evacuation orders for the Carmel Highland areas to the north were lifted.

Kevin Gilman is among those most recently evacuated. He was about to board a flight at San Francisco International Airport when he received an evacuation message on his phone.

"The situation was escalating, so I decided I'd come back," he said. "We got up there, and I got my donkeys, got them in the trailer, and we made our way out. Got a few belongings."

Fire officials warned that crews will likely be battling the wildfire raging in steep, forested ridges for another month.

More than 5,200 fire personnel are battling the blaze, some out on the front lines. Others, such as crews from the San Francisco Fire Department, will head home Tuesday. Cal Fire said large engines are now less valuable in the firefight as the flames move south into even more rugged areas.

Highway 1 remained open, but signs along the narrow route warned travelers that all state parks in the area were closed because of the fire.

Residents have been evacuated along Cachagua Road from Nason Road to Tassajara Road and along Tassajara Road from East Carmel Valley Road to the Tassajar Hot Springs Zen Center. The evacuation order includes all roads that extend from the above roads, Cal Fire said.

Road closures include Palo Colorado Road at Highway 1, Robinson Canyon Road south of Penon Peak Trail and Weston Ridge Road at Highway 1.

For more information on the Soberanes fire and other California wildfires, visit the Cal Fire website.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us