California Wildfire Shuts Down Highway, Prompts Evacuations Near Big Sur

by TK Sanders
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A wildfire along California’s Big Sur coastline triggered a mandatory evacuation for residents of Monterey County Friday night. The fire affected parts of California’s legendary, winding pacific coast highway, which offers stunning views of the ocean.

Big Sur is a region of California south of San Francisco but north of Los Angeles. Sports fans will recognize its stunning coastal views from U.S. Opens played at Pebble Beach golf course. The hit television show Big Little Lies also takes place in this region of California.

The fire began in Palo Colorado Canyon in the Big Sur region, according to the county’s office of emergency services. The historic Highway 1, which winds delicately through the region, shuts down often for mudslide repairs and the like. Now, though, it is shut down for a fire.

Monterey County officials said evacuation orders are mandatory for “all areas West of 3800 Palo Colorado Rd. to Highway 1 and south to Bixby Creek.”

Local Response to the Blaze

Local news stations aren’t sure how many residents have been affected, but they do know that about 100 acres have burned already. The National Weather Service said that dry winds are pushing the Big Sur fire towards the highway.

“The strongest offshore (northeast) winds have peaked and expected to ease after midnight through sunrise. Humidity should trend higher by 4-6 am. Need to be on the watchout for some light southerly winds early Saturday morning,” the NWS said in a tweet.

So far, 13 local fire agencies have responded to the incident. Neighbors all the way in Santa Cruz county roughly 70 miles away say they can see the blaze in the distance. Both the Red Cross and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals established field stations in Monterey to help locals sort out the logistics of evacuation. Monterey County houses about 430,000 residents.

In many ways still a desert climate (despite its increased precipitation levels over Southern California), the Big Sur region is very susceptible to fire. If you’ve ever made the drive through the state parks, you remember the thick forests backing up to the steep, jagged cliff-sides. It’s one of the most beautiful and dangerous stretches of California and a true gem for the American State Park system.

Big Sur can be big-time dangerous

In September of 2021, a young Navy sailor died during a hike in Big Sur after slipping and falling down a slope. Marie Denea Ishie, a 22-year-old Marine from San Diego, fell 80 feet in a restricted area last fall. She fell near McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

According to authorities, the young woman was an active duty Navy sailor. Local news stations reported that investigators found nothing suspicious in the hiking accident. They also ruled out suicide, believing that the fall happened by accident.

Outsider.com