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Soberanes Fire In Monterey County Continues To Threaten Thousands Of Homes

Terry Chea / AP

A car destroyed from wildfires sits in Big Sur, Calif., Friday, July 29, 2016.

Terry Chea / AP

The Soberanes Fire burning near Big Sur in Monterey County continues to threaten 2,000 structures. The 11-day old fire has scorched 40,000 acres and destroyed 57 homes.

Keith Bispo has lived in Bug Sur for 35 years. He says you have to be rugged to live there, but it's worth it.

"This is part of the deal, it’s a gorgeous place," says Bispo. "You're out in the woods. A little bit of elbow room.  Wake up to a beautiful  creek view every morning.  It’s sunny and nice.  It’s a beautiful place to live. Fire is part of it."

The fire is 18 percent contained. Last week, a bulldozer operator working the fire line was killed.   

Krista Almanzan, News Director at KAZU public radio in Monterey, says the biggest challenge for fire crews is the terrain in Big Sur. 

"It's this area along the central coast where steep mountainsides meet deep valleys that are filled with redwood trees," says Almanzan. "People live in really remote areas. They're long, winding roads. They go on for miles, many of them are unpaved, they're up high.

Almanzan says the area has a history of fires. 

"In 2008., there was the Basin Complex Fire, which wasn't in this exact area, but it was also in Big Sur," she says. "And in that particular fire, burned for quiet some time, it ended up burning 160,000 plus acres."

Some 5,200 firefighters are battling the blaze. Almanzan says businesses are telling tourists to still visit the area, but they need to be careful.

"The main thing is to not cause traffic for firefighters, a lot of people drive really slow because it's such a beautiful view of the ocean," she says. "And so I think if you're going to drive down there, instead of driving slow, just pull over. Take your pictures, and then get down to the businesses to support them."

Cal Fire estimates to have the fire contained by August 31.

-Capital Public Radio Staff

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