Fire crews make progress on California wildfires, aim at coastal blaze | AspenTimes.com
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Fire crews make progress on California wildfires, aim at coastal blaze

Juliana Barbassa
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

SAN FRANCISCO ” Firefighters reported progress with a massive blaze in the Los Padres National Forest after beginning a series of “controlled burns” to clear tinder-dry brush in the path of flames that already have ravaged more than 190 square miles (490 square kilometers) near the central California coast.

Mandatory evacuation orders remained in place Wednesday so crews could continue the controlled burns for a second day. A controlled burn is a technique used to try to contain a forest fire by depriving it of brush and other fuel.

The evacuation order affects about 20 homes, mostly cabins and summer homes, that dot the heavily wooded ridges near Carmel Valley, said Ruby Urueta, spokeswoman with the Monterey County Emergency Operations Center.

“People will see smoke, but it’ll be a controlled operation,” said Urueta.

About 200 homes earlier were evacuated in the rural Cachagua community because of the fire danger.

The lightning-sparked blaze already has destroyed 27 homes along the storied Big Sur coast before spreading inland. The fire, which has burned for more than three weeks, is 61 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

On Tuesday, authorities lifted the remaining evacuation advisories on the western flank of the blaze, including the town of Big Sur.

About 2,085 separate blazes have burned statewide since a massive lightning storm struck on June 21, ravaging nearly 1,400 square miles (3,600 square kilometers), according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The updated number of fires reflects more accurate information obtained as crews make progress on the ground.

“Progress is really being made ” we’ve really turned a corner,” said Daniel Berlant, a state fire department spokesman. “But we have to remember this is just July, and our biggest fires are historically in September and October. We really have to, as a state, not become complacent yet.”


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