Aug 3, 2016

Soberanes Fire Near Big Sur 25 Percent Contained

Big Sur, CA
USA
by
CBS SF Bay Area
Soberanes fire damage. Photo: CBS
Soberanes fire damage. Photo: CBS

An abandoned campfire caused the massive Soberanes Fire that has burned more than 44,000 acres north of Big Sur in Monterey County, Cal Fire officials said Tuesday.

The campfire was reported by two hikers just as the fire broke out on July 22. The hikers needed to move to a place where there was cellphone reception to report the fire, so the precise location of the abandoned campfire hadn’t been determined.

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The fire was 25 percent contained at 45,800 acres (71.56 square miles) as of Wednesday morning.

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The rugged terrain has made it difficult for the 5,522 firefighters working to extinguish the blaze. It began around 8:45 a.m. on July 22 at Soberanes Creek in Garrapata State Park, Cal Fire officials said.

Investigators estimate that the fire won’t be fully contained until the end of the month.

PG&E crews have begun repairing power lines and poles that were damaged in the fire, starting in Carmel-by-the Sea, utility officials said.

Six outages have been reported since the fire broke and flames continue to threaten equipment and facilities in the area, according to PG&E.

Crews will continue to work to return service and rebuild infrastructure as safely and as quickly as possible, PG&E officials said.

Smoke was expected to clear Tuesday afternoon in many cities north of the fire, including Gilroy, Santa Cruz and Salinas, according to Cal Fire.

Heavy smoke along the coast was forecasted to head east Tuesday and air quality is estimated to improve on Wednesday, agency officials said.

The fire claimed the life of 35-year-old Fresno County resident Robert Oliver Reagan III, a private contractor who was operating a bulldozer that rolled over last week, according to Cal Fire.

Teams have been assigned to investigate the circumstances surrounding Reagan’s death and what started the fire. The blaze has also destroyed 57 homes and 11 outbuildings in addition to damaging three structures and two outbuildings, Cal Fire officials said