Investigators: Giant Big Sur blaze caused by illegal campfire

Posted Aug 5, 2016 by Nathan Salant
California fire investigators say an intense wildfire that has already burned more than 50,000 acres near scenic Big Sur was started by an illegal campfire.
BURNING: Smoke billows from the hills above U.S. Highway 1 along the California coastline near Carme...
BURNING: Smoke billows from the hills above U.S. Highway 1 along the California coastline near Carmel last week as the Soberanes Fire begins to race out of control.
TJRC/Wikimedia Commons
The Soberanes Fire has been spreading steadily despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and local fire jurisdictions, officials said Tuesday.
CalFire said the fire apparently started July 22 as a campfire in Garrapata State Park, a couple of miles east of Highway 1 along Soberanes Creek, but had been left "unattended" and allowed to spread, and now could for weeks before suppression efforts proved successful.
The area burning is visible from space and is larger than the city of San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
The fire has pushed southeast into Los Padres National Forest and was just 25 percent contained as of earlier this week.
“In some locations the fire is still actively burning at night,” Cal Fire spokesman Don Jaques said.
The blaze has destroyed 57 homes and killed a bulldozer operator whose machine turned over during the firefight.
But firefighters have made progress recently by lighting backfires that consume fuel needed by the advancing flames, officials said.
Another fire in Northern California, the Cold Fire, burning out of control this week in Yolo County near Lake Berryessa, has grown to nearly 2,000 acres and forced evacuations at Canyon Creek Resort and Golden Bear Estates in Winters.
The fire was reported off Highway 128 near Pleasants Valley Road after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to Cal Fire, which ordered the evacuation of the resort, a popular RV, cabin and tent camping site.
Homes in Golden Bear Estates have been evacuated, officials said.
Firefighters from Napa County, Winters and Dixon have joined state firefighters and prisoners in battling the flames, and no injuries have been reported from the Cold Fire, the newspaper said.