MONTEREY COUNTY — Firefighters continue to strengthen containment of the Dolan Fire burning south of Big Sur in the Los Padres National Forest.
As of Wednesday morning, the fire had burned 122,178 acres and was 40 percent contained, according to Los Padres National Forest officials. The fire has been burning since Aug. 18. The cause is under investigation.
Firefighters were going to continue the burnout operation on McKern Road on Wednesday. Crews and heavy equipment spent several days preparing roads to be used as containment lines on a planned burnout that is intended to prevent the fire from moving south of McKern and Nacimiento-Ferguson Roads, US Forest Service officials stated.
Ignitions that began along Prewitt Ridge Tuesday were expected to progress slowly east Wednesday with firefighters along McKern Road using water to cool the perimeter. Fixed-wing aircraft were available for retardant drops to moderate fire behavior and helicopters could assist with aerial ignitions to fill in areas of unburned fuel. This burnout operation was expected to take a few days to complete depending on wind and weather conditions.
There’s a forecasted wind change on Thursday from generally southerly winds to northwest-west winds. While wind speeds are not predicted to increase, the change of direction could push fire farther east. Hot and dry conditions were expected to persist inland and on the east side of the fire area and firefighters were predicting active fire behavior.
Highway 1 remains closed between milepost 25 and milepost 10. Nacimiento-Ferguson Road is closed to all traffic from Highway 1 to the Fort Hunter Liggett base boundary line.
Elsewhere, the Creek Fire containment was 18 percent, with 220,025 acres burned as of Wednesday morning. The fire has been burning since Sept. 4 in the Sierra National Forest in Madera and Fresno counties and has destroyed 650 structures.
A Fire Weather Watch is in effect Thursday afternoon through Friday for the Creek Fire. Firefighters are preparing for a significant weather change across the fire area as the high-pressure system that has been over the area moves east. A low-pressure system moving over California will bring clear air, gusty winds and cooler temperatures at the higher elevations. These conditions will give the fire a chance to become more active and begin pushing it toward lines that have not yet been wind tested.
Over 16,600 firefighters remain on the frontlines of 25 significant wildfires and two extended attack wildfires in California.
Since the beginning of the year, wildfires have burned over 3.2 million acres in California. Since Aug. 15, when California’s fire activity elevated, there have been 25 fatalities and over 4,200 structures destroyed.