On Sunday, firefighters made progress battling a blaze near scenic Big Sur in California that forced evacuations and closed a major highway.
The Colorado Fire, which started Friday evening, was 25% contained by early Sunday and was burning on just over 1,050 acres, Cal Fire said.
Flames fanned by high winds forced the closure of a section of State Highway 1, a famous north-south scenic route on the Pacific Coast from Garrapata Creek to the cliffs at Point Sur.
The cause of the fire is unknown, authorities said.
“This is a wind-driven fire,” Cal Fire spokeswoman Cécile Juliette said in a phone interview on Sunday. Just under 200 people were fighting the wildfire which prompted the evacuation of around 500 people, she added.
The department is not aware of any injuries and only one structure was reported damaged.
California has long had an active wildfire season, but in recent years, fueled at least in part by climate change, it has become longer and more punitive.
“We’ve had several fires in Northern California over the past few years that have been different from the fires of 10 or 15 years ago,” Juliette said. “They’ve been a lot bigger, (with) a lot more energy, a lot hotter, and spreading a lot faster. So this is the new California.
A forest fire in January was “very unusual”, Juliette said.
Last year, wildfire season started unusually early amid continued drought and low reservoir levels, Cal Fire said. In January 2021 alone, the state fought 297 fires on 1,171 acres, the office said.
California is also struggling with the Santa Ana winds. Multiple wind advisories, mostly affecting the southern part of the state, remained in effect through Sunday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.