High winds have canceled out the effects of heavy rainfall in recent months in Northern California as the Colorado Fire spreads across Big Sur. The wildfire is forcing evacuations and shutting down swaths of Highway 1, the famous oceanside route through Big Sur, as it grows.
By Saturday, the fire had torched roughly 2 square miles. It was then only 5 percent contained, according to Weather.com. Monterey County Emergency Services issued an evacuation order for people in the fire’s path. And the American Red Cross set up a shelter at Carmel Middle School for evacuees.
As if things weren’t bad enough, the Bay Area was under a wind advisory from Friday night through Saturday afternoon. Strong winds shook the area overnight Friday. They downed trees and power lines and left at least 18,000 PG&E customers without power.
Firefighters Contain More of Wildfire as Weekend Continues
By Sunday morning, firefighters had the wildfire 20 percent contained. One building was reported damaged in the blaze so far, SFGate reports.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service said prolonged drought and high winds were together overpowering the rains and cold winter weather that the Bay Area has experienced lately.
“Anecdotally, it seems as though the long-term drought is acting like a chronic illness,” the National Weather Service’s Bay Area office said. “Even recent rains and cold winter weather isn’t helping to keep fires from developing. Pictures on social media suggest some pretty surreal fire behavior given the wet October and December that was observed across the region.”
Highway 1 Closes Near Carmel-by-the-Sea
The California Highway Patrol has closed down Highway 1 at Rio Road near Carmel-by-the-Sea. They also closed Highway 1 at Andrew Molera State Park, which is a little north of Big Sur.
Residents along Palo Colorado Road from Highway 1 east to Rocky Creek Bridge and Bixby Creek Road are under mandatory evacuation orders.
Luckily for firefighters, who are still battling the blaze, the high winds calmed a bit on Saturday. Then helicopters were able to fly up and down the coast. They carted loads of ocean water to pour over the flames.
The fire originally started in a steep canyon on Friday night, per the Associated Press. At least 500 residents have since received evacuation orders. And more than 250 firefighters from Bay Area agencies and volunteer groups have since responded to the blaze.
By late Saturday, the wildfire had burned through 1,050 acres and was still going.