California Firefighters Gain Ground on Wildfire, 500 Remain Evacuated

by Amanda Glover
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According to officials, firefighters gained control of the California wildfire on Sunday, January 23rd. Before they managed to get a handle on the fire, it threatened to take over northern California’s scenic highway and a famous bridge.

On Friday night, the wildfire crossed the Pacific Coast Highway. This burned on the ocean side of the road for some time. Although the fire approached the Bixby Creek Bridge, it was not damaged.

According to a recent update, the fire was 35% contained on Sunday night, up from the morning’s figure of 25%, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. By morning, firefighters managed to shorten the fire from taking over 1,050 acres of land to 700 acres.

Cal Fire claimed that firefighter efforts to build and improve containment lines and mop up hotspots would continue on Sunday. “The fire behavior was moderate and made wind-driven runs late Saturday night and into Sunday morning.”

Cal Fire spokesperson, Cecile Juliette, stated that the fire destroyed an occupied yurt. She also reported that most of those under evacuation orders left the area.

Juliette said this fire was unusual as the Colorado wildfire took over an area that went more than a decade without a January fire. Although California has had an active wildfire season, it has grown longer more damaging in recent years.

“We’ve had several fires across northern California in the last few years that have been different than the fires from 10 or 15 years ago. They’ve been much bigger, (with) much more energy, much hotter, and spread much more quickly. So this is the new California,” said Juliette.

More on California Wildfire

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the wildfire began last Friday around 7:30 p.m. near Palo Colorado Road in Big Sur. Here, it “remained stubbornly active overnight.” They claim that the fire began when offshore winds started gusting at very low humidity. On Saturday morning, the NWS issued wind advisories. This happened after wind gusts in Northern California approached 100 miles per hour in certain areas.

Due to the intense fire, the California Highway Patrol closed Highway 1 at Rio Road just outside of Carmel-by-the-Sea. According to officials, there is no estimated time for reopening.

On late Friday afternoon, the American Red Cross opened a shelter for residents who received mandatory evacuations. Firefighters and residents are urged to monitor light southward winds that could change the track of the fire’s spread.

On Friday, January 22, Vice President Kamala Harris announced a $600 million federal investment towards helping California recover from last year’s wildfires. The Department of Agriculture and U.S. Forest Service recently announced a 10-year multi-billion-dollar plan to prevent wildfires. 

Outsider.com