Wildfire along California's Big Sur forces evacuations

Wildfire along Californias Big Sur forces evacuations

Big Sur (US): Strong winds pushed a wildfire that broke out in the rugged mountains above Big Sur to the sea, forcing hundreds of residents on this precarious stretch of the California coast to evacuate and authorities to shut its main roadway.

The fire broke out Friday night in a steep canyon. Fanned by wind gusts of up to 80 kmph, it quickly burned at least 6 square kilometers of brush and redwood trees, said Cecile Juliette, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"The fire lined up with the wind and the terrain and that gave the fire a lot of energy to make a big run," she said on Saturday.

Authorities made contact with about 500 residents, urging them to evacuate the sparsely populated area between Carmel and Big Sur. More than 250 firefighters from multiple agencies and volunteer groups, aided by water-dropping aircraft, contained 5 per cent of the blaze.

"The winds have died down and that has worked in our favour," she said.

Authorities shut a stretch of Highway 1 with no estimated time for reopening. The highway along Big Sur is prone to closures due to fire and mudslides from heavy rain that made portions of the roadway collapse to the sea last year and in 2017. Evacuees shared on social media dramatic images of flames burning behind iconic Bixby Bridge.

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