Firefighters on Saturday were battling a wildfire that broke out in the rugged mountains along Big Sur, forcing hundreds of residents on this precarious stretch of the California coast to evacuate and authorities to shut its main roadway.
The blaze — called the Colorado Fire, began around 7:30 p.m. near Palo Colorado Road in Big Sur. It started Friday night in a steep canyon and quickly spread toward the sea, fanned by strong winds up to 50 mph (80 kph).
The blaze burned at least 2.3 square miles (6 square kilometers) of brush and redwood trees, said Cecile Juliette, a spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“The fire lined up with the wind and the terrain and that gave the fire a lot of energy to make a big run,” she said Saturday.
The fire burning in California shut down part of Highway 1 and forced evacuations. As of Saturday night, it had grown to 1,050 acres, and was 20% contained, according to Cal Fire.
Authorities made contact with about 500 residents, urging them to evacuate the sparsely populated area between Carmel and Big Sur. More than 250 firefighters from multiple agencies and volunteer groups, aided by water-dropping aircraft, contained 5% of the blaze.
“The winds have died down and that has worked in our favor,” she said.
Authorities closed a stretch of Highway 1 with no estimated time for reopening. The two-lane highway along Big Sur is prone to closures due to fire and mudslides from heavy rain made portions of the roadway collapse last year and in 2017.
Evacuees shared on social media dramatic images of flames burning behind iconic Bixby Bridge.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter late Friday evening for some residents who received mandatory evacuation orders due to the fire.
The emergency shelter for residents of the Palo Colorado area of Monterey County opened at 11:30 p.m. at Carmel Middle School.
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