December 8, 2022

California wildfires trigger evacuations, closing highway

Jan. 22 (Reuters) – A 1,500-acre fire near the Big Sur coastal community in California triggered evacuations and closed part of a major highway, state and local officials said Saturday.

The Colorado Fire, which has been active since Friday, is under 5% control, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Conservation (Cal Fire).

State Highway 1 is 20 miles long, and the beautiful north-south route along the Pacific coast closes from the coastal town of Carmel-by-the-Sea to Andrew Molera State Park.

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About 400 people in Montreal County were evacuated from 1,100 structures, a spokesman for the American Red Cross said, citing district reports.

The Red Cross said four people and a pet were staying at a local school overnight.

In this manual photo taken on the night of January 21 or 22, 2022, a wildfire is burning at Rocky Point in Monterey County, California. Manual via DEBI LORENC / REUTERS

California has had a long wildfire season, but in recent years, it has become somewhat fueled by climate change and has grown longer and more punitive.

Last year, the wildfire season began unusually early amid drought and low reservoir levels, Cal Fire said. In January 2021 alone, the state fought 297 fires on 1,171 acres, the office said.

The only fire listed on Cal Fire’s incident list so far in 2022 is the Colorado Fire.

This year, California is also battling the Santa Ana wind. According to the National Weather Service, high winds with a speed of 70 mph (112.65 km / h) are in effect in the area.

But the Red Cross said winds had improved and were forecast to be mild throughout the weekend.

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Magini Price’s Report in Washington; Editing by Diane Kraft and Cynthia Asterman

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