published Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Big Sur fire destroys 15 homes, forces 100 to flee in California

  • photo
    Fire burns near the Big Sur River as firefighters battle a wildland fire in the Pfeiffer Ridge area in Big Sur, Calif., on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

BIG SUR, Calif. — A wildfire burning Monday in the Big Sur area of California destroyed at least 15 homes and forced about 100 people to evacuate as it chewed through dry vegetation on its way toward the ocean. No injuries were reported.

The fire burned about 500 acres in the Pfeiffer Ridge area of Los Padres National Forest near state Highway 1, Los Padres National Forest spokesman Andrew Madsen said.

Madsen said the fire destroyed the home of Big Sur Fire Chief Martha Karstens. Officials were hopeful that they could contain the blaze within the next couple of days.

The Red Cross has set up an overnight shelter for people who have been displaced by the fire, Madsen said.

Big Sur is a popular tourist destination along the Central California coast with high-end resorts and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

Residences were scattered in the path of the fire that was being battled by 300 firefighters. Officials also brought in air tankers and helicopters.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

A wildfire so late in the year is unusual but not surprising given that California is in the midst of the driest calendar year on record.

A lightning-sparked wildfire in 2008 forced the evacuation of Big Sur and blackened 250 square miles before it was contained. That blaze burned more than a dozen homes.

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