The Soberanes Fire near Big Sur started burning on July 22, and firefighters don’t predict it will be fully contained until Aug. 31, a Cal Fire spokeswoman told Take Two on Monday morning.
More than 40,000 acres and 57 homes have been burned during the past week and a half, but the location of the fire along the picturesque coastal cliffs of northern California is making it difficult for firefighters to access the flames.
“Our number 1 priority is obviously getting this fire out, our number 2 is getting people back in their homes,” Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff told Take Two.
The flames threaten about 2,000 structures, some of which are vacation homes, and 350 residents have been evacuated. Flames sparked Tom Torlakson, serving as active governor while Jerry Brown was out of the state, to issue an emergency proclamation.
A bulldozer operator was killed working on the fire, and Tolmachoff said the incident is under special investigation.
Tolmachoff said that heavy use of aircraft assisted with the remote locations of some of the flames, but at times the fire simply has to burn itself out.
“The weather has been very difficult — triple-digit temps and just a little bit of wind, which is just the perfect conditions for a fire to spread,” Tolmachoff said.
Vegetation fueling the fire has not burned in many years, which is one of the reasons behind the lengthy outlook for getting the fire contained, Tolmachoff said.
Just like authorities are prioritizing residents' return to their homes, they're also trying to clear the way for vacationers who planned to make their way to the scenic parks near the fire. All state parks from Point Lobos National Park to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are currently closed.
For a full list of mandatory evacuation locations and road closures, visit Cal Fire's incident page. There is a collection of donations underway at the Big Sur State Park Multi-Agency Building. Visit montereyco.recovers.org or call (831)-667-3173 for information on how you can help.
To listen to the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.