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Firefighters making progress on winter wildfire burning in Big Sur, but evacuation orders remain

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Cal Fire
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Firefighters are gaining control of a brush fire called the Colorado Fire that erupted Friday along the Big Sur coast, with the blaze now 35 percent contained and about 700 acres still burning.

While evacuation orders remain in place, the emergency shelter in Carmel closed Monday morning.

About 500 people live within the Colorado Fire evacuation zone, but Maia Carroll with Monterey County Office of Emergency Services said only a couple of people stayed at the emergency shelter set up at Carmel Middle School this weekend.

“Big Sur residents are pretty resilient and are used to fires," Carroll said. "When they have to evacuate, they don’t always use the evacuation centers and shelters.”

Carroll said because they know many people decided not to evacuate, there is a boil your own water notice for those in the evacuation zone who are not California American Water company customers and power outages are expected to continue.

“There is a dumpster at the north bound shoulder of Highway 1 and Pfeiffer Ridge Road for people to bring spoiled food.”

Cari Dighton with the Red Cross said although they’ve closed the emergency shelter due to lack of use, people in the evacuation zone can still seek help by calling 2-1-1.

“ 2-1-1 will be a great resource for people looking for hotel accommodations," Dighton said. " I know there are some area hotels that have made some special accommodations for those that have been affected.”

As firefighters continue battling the blaze, Highway 1 continues to stay closed from Garrapata Creek to Point Sur.

Carroll with Monterey County Emergency Services said she understands people may be frustrated by the road closures, since they can’t go back into their homes yet.

“As frustrating as it may be, respect the closures, take a breath," Carroll said. "We are looking at some really good progress on the fire, according to Cal Fire. So hopefully those road blocks will be done away with soon.”

Dighton with the Red Cross said although a blaze like this in winter is unusual, it's becoming more common, and she urges people in fire risk zones to have to-go bags ready all year around.

“Over the last couple years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of major disasters that happen across the nation and in our own state," Dighton said. "They are more frequent, they are more impactful and a lot of people are at risk of facing a disaster of this nature.”

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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