Unusual late fall fire still burning in Big Sur

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 17, 2013 at 9:47 pm •  Published: December 17, 2013
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BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — An unusual late fall wildfire fueled by drought conditions destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced about 100 people to flee the forested mountains of the scenic Big Sur region overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The slow-moving fire in Los Padres National Forest near state Highway 1 had consumed 769 acres, or a little over a square mile, by Tuesday night and was 20 percent contained.

It has destroyed 22 buildings, Los Padres National Forest spokesman Lynn Olson said. About 14 of those structures were homes, she said.

No injuries have been reported.

About 830 firefighters have deployed to the area, and thus far, weather has been working in their favor, said Mark Nunez, the incident commander of the team fighting the fire. But Wednesday would be another matter, depending on which way the wind blows.

Olson said a weather front was approaching. "It could possibly help us. It could possibly hurt us," she said.

Big Sur — miles of rugged coast, cliffs and wilderness — is a popular tourist destination about 150 miles south of San Francisco with high-end resorts and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

The fire was burning a little more than a mile from Ventana Inn and Spa, a favorite spot among celebrities where former Facebook president and Napster co-founder Sean Parker got married in June.

In the summer of 2008, a lightning-sparked wildfire forced the evacuation of Big Sur and blackened 250 square miles before it was contained. That blaze burned more than a dozen homes.

California's fire season traditionally peaks by mid-fall, but the drought of the last several years has given the state essentially year-round danger.

The Big Sur fire began Sunday, fueled by dry vegetation and fanned by winds.

Among the homes destroyed was that of Big Sur Fire Chief Martha Karstens. She tearfully told reporters Monday night that the loss of her home of 23 years had not yet sunk in.

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