Publication Date August 2, 2016

Massive Big Sur blaze caused by abandoned campfire, state says

United States
Smoke from the Soberanes Fires wafts eastward from the wildfire’s 43,400 burn scar in a photo from NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite. The fire was only 18 percent contained as of Tuesday. Photo: NASA

A destructive wildfire that continues to spread in vast and rugged terrain near Big Sur was ignited by an abandoned campfire, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said Tuesday.

Although they said they didn’t know who was responsible for the campfire, the Cal Fire officials said it was started illegally about 2¼ miles east of Highway 1 along Soberanes Creek in an isolated area of Garrapata State Park.

The Soberanes Fire continued to grow Tuesday, and firefighters estimated it would be weeks before the flames would be suppressed. The burn scar had grown to 44,300 acres — larger than the city of San Francisco — and was visible from space as heavy smoke billowed from the mountainous landscape of California’s picturesque Central Coast.

The fire, which began July 22 and has pushed southeast into Los Padres National Forest, was just 25 percent contained Tuesday. Cal Fire officials said they didn’t expect full containment until the end of August