Soberanes Fire prompts evacuations, affects Bay Area air quality

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A wildfire burning north of Big Sur in Monterey County has grown to more than 19,311 acres Tuesday. There are 1,600 structures threatened. The Soberanes Fire has destroyed 20 homes and two buildings since it broke out Friday. (KGO-TV)

Crews are battling a wildfire burning north of Big Sur in Monterey County that has grown to over 23,500 acres Tuesday. The Soberanes Fire is threatening at least 1,650 structures. So far, the fire is 10 percent contained.

The fire has destroyed 20 homes and two buildings since it broke out Friday.

At least 300 people have been evacuated from their homes.

RELATED: Bay Area firefighters help battle 15,000 acre Soberanes Fire

Smoke from the fire is spreading to the Bay Area. Air quality was bad in San Jose Monday and that is expected to continue Tuesday. Smoke from the fire also moved into South Lake Tahoe Monday. Air quality officials say it could reach the North Bay Tuesday, depending on the course of the fire.

Officials say you may want to modify any exercise outdoors. Public health doctors are warning the very young and old and anyone with pre-existing conditions about the poor air.

The air quality in the South Bay and across the Peninsula was bad and things and things are expected to get worse across the Bay Area. Health officials say it's a double whammy: smoke and smog.

There were early signs it would be round two for residents in the Peninsula. As the sun rose, haze from the large wildfire in Monterey once again could be seen, smelled and even felt.

"Honestly, I feel like the air is thicker, so I can feel the thickness, so I can tell the difference," said San Jose resident Gabriela Gaspar.

But Tuesday the concern is more widespread. Health officials warn folks not to do any strenuous exercise outdoors because air quality is poor. Smoke reached South Lake Tahoe Monday and Tuesday the smoke could reach up into the North Bay and all across the Bay Area.

"Yes, it's going to be it's going to be miserable I think, judging by this morning already it's pretty muggy, hazy, and smelly," said San Jose resident Frank Rast.
For the very young, the elderly and people with preexisting problems, the bad air can be dangerous, especially anyone with lung disease.

The health department shared an image that shows just how bad things are getting, although San Jose firefighters say the fire is not affecting city operations.

"So we've got 12 people out of the loop right now; however we do have sufficient resources to put other engines on the street to back fill those with overtime people," said San Jose Fire Department Capt. Mitch Matlow.

Everyone sure is talking about it.

"It's going to get worse today. I believe it's still going on it's struggling with that fire," Rast said.

As it heats up the air will start mixing. Residents might start to smell the smoke Bay Area wide. Particulate pollution from the wildfire is even more dangerous than smog, so health officials issued a spare the air alert and are urging people to protect their health.

The extensive fire has led 300 residents to evacuate from the Palo Colorado community, Old Coast Road, Rocky Creek Road, Bixby Creek Road from state Highway 1 south to Mesa Road, Corona Road east of Highway 1 and Riley Ranch Road east of Highway 1, Cal Fire officials said.

An evacuation center has been set up at Carmel Middle School, according to Cal Fire.

People have been warned to leave southern parts of Carmel Highlands, the area south of Rancho San Carlos, White Rock and Old Coast Road south from Bixby Creek to Little Sur River, Cal Fire officials said.

The fire has led 300 residents to evacuate from the Palo Colorado community, Old Coast Road, Rocky Creek Road, Bixby Creek Road from state Highway 1 south to Mesa Road, Corona Road east of Highway 1 and Riley Ranch Road east of Highway 1, Cal Fire officials said.

A closure is in effect for Palo Colorado Road at Highway 1, Robinson Canyon Road south of Penon Peak Trail and Weston Ridge Road at Highway 1, according to Cal Fire.

The fire has prompted the closure of Garrapata State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Point Lobos State National Reserve, Point Sur Lighthouse State Historic Park and the Pine Ridge and Mt. Manuel trails at Los Padres National Forest, state park officials said.

As of Tuesday morning, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for Monterey County is caring for more than 25 pets evacuated from the fire, shelter officials said on Facebook.

The SPCA is also seeking cash donations, small bags of pet food and cat litter that can be made at Carmel Middle School or its shelter at 1002 Monterey Salinas Highway in Salinas.

Anyone affected by the fire who needs help with pets or large animals may call the SPCA at (831) 373-2631.

The Community Foundation for Monterey County is collecting monetary donations to help people affected by the fire. More information on making a contribution can be found online at https://www.cfmco.org/about-us/fund-list/soberanes-fire-fund.

Closures are in effect for Garrapata State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Point Lobos State National Reserve, Point Sur Lighthouse State Historic Park and the Pine Ridge and Mt. Manuel trails at Los Padres National Forest, state park officials said.

Click here for full coverage on the Soberanes Fire.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Related Topics:
newsbrush firefiremonterey countysherifffirefightersdroughtcal fireSoberanes FireCaliforniaSan JoseOaklandSan MateoSan RafaelSan Francisco
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