Heat wave could hinder Calif. firefighters

July 7, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The National Weather Service has issued a heat warning with the potential for fire starting Tuesday afternoon in the North Bay mountains and East Bay hills.

In Monterey County, the fire in Big Sur has been raging on for two weeks and it's still growing. The incident commander at base camp said they did do good work in the Pico Blanco area, but it's mainly growing to the south. The fire is now 77,000 acres and a heat wave is expected to make conditions worse.

Fire crews are in mop-up mode near Big Sur, trying to get rid of trees and hot spots still smoldering near Highway 1.

"We had some really good containment lines. On other sites, we're still punching through heavy brush, heavy fuel and steep terrain that we get those in." says Basin Fire spokesperson Sarah Gibson.

The fire now 15 percent contained, but it's still growing as crews continue their work on this more than two-week old fire.

Kurt Mayer continues his work as the only storekeeper anywhere near Big Sur. He didn't have much of a variety since a lot of the fresh food has gone bad.

"They don't really care. I say, put a little extra mayonnaise on it. It will be fine," says Mayer.

"It's incredible. The people out here have been really nice and to have this store open right here is justa blessing," says one customer.

"I try get all the information about what is going on in their area and I get phone calls from people asking if I know anything and I tell them, they tell me," says Mayer.

But, no one can tell him when Big Sur will return to normal. With a fire weather watch for Tuesday and Wednesday, fire crews are trying to get as much as they can today.

"We need to find ways to get mechanical equipment in, that makes it difficult to get those areas that are most impacted by the dry heat," says Gibson.

In the meantime, all the evacuations are still in place, and for nearly 1500 people, it is mandatory. CAL FIRE says they are trying to work on a reentry plan for those people. The evacuation center is still set up at Carmel Middle School.


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