Tags: big sur | fire | destroys | homes

Big Sur Fire Destroys 15 Homes Over 550 Acres, Is Only 5 Percent Contained

By Alexandra Ward   |   Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 12:32 PM

Firefighters on Tuesday continued to battle the massive fire that erupted Monday night in Big Sur, Calif., and burned through an estimated 550 acres, destroying 15 homes.

The blaze, which sparked in the Los Padres National Forest and was fueled by dry conditions and strong winds, is only about 5 percent contained, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday morning. No one appears to have been injured, but one of the homes destroyed belonged to Big Sur Fire Chief Martha Karstens.

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Mark Nunez of the U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday's forecast of more strong winds wouldn't make it easy to get the blaze under control.

"There's a front coming through," he told the Chronicle. "We expect more wind and wind shifts."

Fire officials evacuated about 100 Big Sur residents Monday night as the fire ripped toward the California coastline.

"I don't know if our house is still there," said Jerry Schiff, a resident who said he quickly packed what he could before heading to safety at a nearby evacuation center set up by the Red Cross. "I saw a 40-foot wall of orange and said, 'We got to get out of here.'"

Monterey County Sheriff Scott Miller said the lack of rain contributed significantly to the rapid spread of the fire. The Big Sur area, which normally records several inches of precipitation in the fall, got less than a half-inch since July, according to the Chronicle.

"It's just bone dry out here," he said.

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