H-MONTEREY COUNTY

Dec 18, 2013 1:24 AM by Victoria Johnson

Pfeiffer fire in Big Sur continues to burn

Nearly 500 firefighters from Ventura County to Monterey County are working to gain the upper hand on the Pfeiffer fire burning in Big Sur. It is a slow moving, but persistent fire. It has burned more than 750 acres so far. Nine helicopters and seven planes are in a fire fight over Big Sur. They are dropping water on the hillsides of Pfeiffer Ridge that are too steep for firefighters. At the bottom of the hill, hand crews are cutting fire lines in Sycamore Canyon in an attempt to contain the fire. "The fire danger has been off the chart for any time of year and especially for December and a week before Christmas," says Mark Nunez, Incident Commander, Central Coast Incident Management Team, U.S. Forest Service. It's not just the terrain that is making this fire extremely hard to fight, but the dry fuels as well. "Due to our drought and extended drought, we had dry conditions this year. Even though the vegetation appears green, it is actually quite dry and very combustible," says Nunez. He expects a cold front in the next 48 hours, which could bring much needed moisture. However, it could also come with gusty winds. "It brings more oxygen to the fire and could potentially line up with the topography we have here to increase rates of spread and spotting," says Nunez. In the meantime, crews work around the clock trying to save homes and put out the blaze. The fire began 12:10 a.m. Monday, December 16th. 22 buildings have been destroyed. 14 of them are houses. So far, it is 20% contained. Full containment is expected by Friday evening. However, it all depends on weather. The cause is under investigation.

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