MONTEREY CO. (BCN) — Some evacuation orders in Monterey County were lifted today as firefighters come closer to containing the massive Soberanes Fire that has swallowed nearly 58,000 acres of forest north of Big Sur over the last two weeks.
As of this morning, the fire was 45 percent contained at 57,500 acres. But it could take until the end of the month to get it fully contained and it grew about 1,000 acres overnight, according to Cal Fire. About 650 structures are still threatened.
The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office announced this afternoon that evacuations have been lifted for the area west of state Highway 1 from Coast
Road to Graves Canyon, south of where the fire is burning. However, anyone returning there will remain under a warning and could be ordered to evacuate at any time.
Areas east of Highway 1 remain under evacuation orders, according to the sheriff’s office.
Numerous residents remain evacuated in the area where the fire has been burning, which stretches from just north of Garrapata State Park in the
north nearly to Big Sur in the south and to Cachagua Road in the east.
Most of the Los Padres National Forest area remains closed as well.
Residents near the fire should keep up-to-date on the fire’s movement and the latest evacuation orders and warnings.
Overnight, fire activity increased in the southwest portion of the fire because of high winds in the area. Much of the fire remains in steep, rugged and inaccessible terrain so getting it contained has been challenging.
The fire has already destroyed 57 homes and 11 outbuildings and damaged five other structures. It claimed the life of a bulldozer operator working to put the fire out, identified as 35-year-old Robert Oliver Reagan III of Fresno County, during the first week it burned.
Three other people have been injured by the fire in recent days, but fire officials have not disclosed how they were injured.
It broke out the morning of July 22 when an illegal campfire was left abandoned in the Soberanes Creek area of Garrapata State Park. It spread
quickly and, in addition to the evacuations, led to the cancellation of the Salinas Valley Half-Marathon scheduled for this weekend due to air quality concerns.