Nearly 3,000 firefighters are battling a wildfire in Monterey County that has increased to 23,500 acres as of Tuesday evening, Cal Fire officials said.
The Soberanes Fire remains at only 10 percent contained as firefighters continue to aggressively attack the fast moving fire.
Cal Fire officials said the blaze had destroyed 20 homes and two outbuildings, while 2,000 structures remained threatened.
A group of hikers were extracted from the area Tuesday after hiking too close to the blaze. The hikers suffered no injuries, and were safely rescued due to collaborative efforts between the Monterey County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue and fire operations personnel.
Additionally, four firefighters were injured Tuesday morning with minor injures, and were treated and released to continue their work, Cal Fire officials said.
Multiple agencies are assisting Cal Fire in its suppression efforts by providing various resources including 14 helicopters, 296 engines, 60 dozers and six air tankers.
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.
The blaze began shortly after 8:45 a.m. Friday at Soberanes Creek in Garrapata State Park, north of Big Sur, and crews expect to reach full containment on Aug. 5, according to Cal Fire.
Crews have prioritized extinguishing the fire in the Carmel Highlands area, which is closest to the fire and has the most threatened homes, Cal Fire operations section chief Mark Brown said during a news briefing this morning at a base camp at Toro County Park in Salinas.
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.
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 that 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.