Monterey County

Highway 1 shut down Sunday for Soberanes Fire back burns, reopens

Highway 1 shuts down during fire operations

BIG SUR, Calif. - UPDATE 8/15/16 8:30 PM: Highway 1 has reopened after firing operations in the Big Sur area of the Soberanes Fire required the road to close at 2:00 p.m. Sunday in both directions between Point Sur Lighthouse and North Coast Ridge Road, Cal Fire said.

Highway 1 was closed for 6 hours.

According to Cal Fire, the firing operations were extremely successful.The shutdown allowed firefighters to aggressively fight the fire on perimeter, protecting the Big Sur and surrounding communities, Cal Fire said.

PREVIOUS STORY: Fire officials said they are re-opening old containment lines used in wildfires from ten and twenty years ago. They believe the back burns will create a buffer in case future winds try to push the fire into Big Sur.

"My husband has a doctor's appointment tomorrow in town, so we're hoping it's open by then," said Big Sur resident Barbara Ray.

Highway 1 shut down from North Point Sur Lighthouse to North Coast Ridge Road, as hot shot crews try to get a handle on the Soberanes fire.

"We're setting fire along Hwy 1 here and around these structures right here to keep this whole section secure," said Cody Ferris with the Los Padres Hot Shots.

Resources are spread out and engines are in place on the highway, which is very close to the fire. Crews are burning the dry fire fuel on the east side between their control lines and the main fire.

"Along most of the fire perimeter we've been able to hold the fire up on the ridge lines," said Soberanes Public Information Officer Richard Hadley. "In this particular section the slopes are so steep, 80 percent slope, we can't get a control line across that slope, so we have to have the fire come down to the road itself and use the road as a control line."

Fire officials said the decreased humidity and wind direction are working in their favor.

"The wind direction is huge," said Ferris. "It's pushing against the line, away from Hwy 1, so that the smoke and all the debris can't cause a fire on the other side."

With Hwy 1 being closed to traffic, many shops decided to shut their doors. Fernwood said business is dead, but they're still staying open.

"We've got firefighters staying in the hotel and so we're staying open for them," said Kate Bottelberghe, Fernwood store clerk.

Officials said the fire is expected to be contained by the end of August, but even then it will still smolder.

"The fire itself is still going to burn within those containment lines until we do get measureable rain fall," said Hadley.

Fire officials are asking people to be patient with the road closures and to not fly drones anywhere by the wildfire, which could shut down their air operations.

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