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Wildfire Spreads Along California’s Big Sur Coastline

October 20, 1996

BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) _ A fast-moving wildfire along California’s scenic Big Sur coastline sent vacationers and residents packing Saturday, closing two state parks and parts of Highway 1.

The blaze nearly doubled in size Saturday, fanned by gusting winds that pushed the flames into rugged, often inaccessible terrain. By evening, the fire had blackened 650 acres.

About 980 firefighters battled the blaze about 30 miles south of Monterey. The fire threatened dozens of buildings. Officials evacuated the residents of about 25 homes Saturday morning, but most were allowed to return home by nightfall.

The fire began Friday, and the wind-whipped flames quickly spread into the Andrew Molera and Pfeiffer-Big Sur state parks, which are part of the Los Padres National Forest. Both parks were shut down Saturday, as was the Ventana Wilderness area to the east.

The flames forced officials to begin evacuating residents and visitors to the popular vacation area on Saturday. Firefighters were able to save one home by putting foam on it, but a travel trailer was destroyed.

High humidity was helping firefighters by Saturday evening, when the blaze was 45 percent contained.

However, the fire had the potential to spread through redwood forests and brushy areas because of strong winds, said Jim Youngson, a spokesman for the national forest. The cause of the fire was not known.

Officials closed Highway 1 for 10 miles north and south of the fire.

Big Sur is about 95 miles south of San Francisco.

Last week, firefighters contained an arson wildfire 30 miles to the south after it scorched about 26,000 acres of the Los Padres National Forest over eight days.

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