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Officials: Big Sur fire is 20 percent contained

December 18, 2013

BIG SUR, California (AP) — A wildfire burning Tuesday in the Big Sur area of California that has destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced about 100 people to evacuate in the Big Sur area of central California is now 20 percent contained, officials said. No injuries were reported.

Los Padres National Forest spokeswoman Lynn Olson said the blaze that began early Monday has destroyed 22 buildings. About 14 of those structures were homes, including that of Big Sur Fire Chief Martha Karstens.

The fire has burned about 769 acres (311 hectares), or a little over a square mile, in the Los Padres National Forest near state Highway 1.

Big Sur is a popular tourist destination along the Central California coast with high-end resorts and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

Highway 1 is open but traffic is heavier due to the presence of emergency vehicles, Madsen said. Evacuations of the area remained in effect as of 10:30 p.m. Monday.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

A wildfire so late in the year is unusual but not surprising given that California is in the midst of the driest calendar year on record.

A lightning-sparked wildfire in 2008 forced the evacuation of Big Sur and blackened 250 square miles (650 square kilometers) before it was contained. That blaze burned more than a dozen homes.

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