A large wildfire in the Big Sur, California area called the Soberanes Fire which was reportedly started by an illegal campfire has caused one death, the loss of over 50 homes and thousands of evacuations. The last CAL FIRE update August 5th indicated that 53,690 acres burned and the fire is only 35% contained. CAL FIRE has indicated on their update page that the total number personnel on the fire line to date is 5,533.
According to the article, CAL FIRE is looking for information about who started and then abandoned a campfire in Garrapata State Park on July 22nd. The persons or person who started the fire may face criminal charges and have to pay fines because of the cost of the fire and the loss of life and property. CAL FIRE has even set up a designated tip phone line (800) 468-4408.
This fire has caused the closure of many parks in this region at the height of tourist season which is also causing a loss in ecotourism purchases for the surrounding communities’ businesses. The parks closed according to CAL FIRE’s update include; Point Sur State Historic Park (Lighthouse), Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground and Day Use. A forest closure order has also been implemented to close the trails and roads within the Los Padres National Forest Monterey Ranger District pursuant to USC551 and 36 CFR 261.50 (a). The order prohibits going into or being upon National Forest System lands within the Soberanes Fire area.
Campfires are a fun part of a summer adventure if proper precautions are taken. Did you know that the NFPA has a free downloadable tip sheet with information about campfire safety?
A few of the safety tips include:
- If campfires are permitted, they need to be at least 25 feet away from any structure and anything that can burn.
- Clear away dry leaves and sticks, overhanging low branches and shrubs.
- Avoid burning on windy days. It is easier for open burning to spread out of control when it is windy and dry.
- Attend to the campfire at all times. A campfire left alone for only a few minutes can grow into a damaging fire.
Have fun this summer but take precautions to make sure that the results of your time in the outdoors are only good memories, and not loss caused by a wildfire.
Picture of the Soberanes Fire from the CAL FIRE Twitter feed