A hillside off Pine Canyon Road is left scorched from the River Fire. (Photo by Tony Nuñez)

SALINAS VALLEY — All evacuation orders and warnings for the River and Carmel fires were lifted Thursday afternoon, as firefighters continue to increase containment of the wildfires that have burned a combined 55,499 acres.

“All evacuation and warning zones in the River and Carmel fires are reopened,” said Monterey County Communications Coordinator Maia Carroll. “Residents returning home should use caution and check water safety.”

Residents are asked to use caution and obey all traffic control signs as they return to these areas. Fire crews and utility companies will remain to help mitigate any fire concerns, restore utilities and bolster infrastructure.

“Some homes may still be without water and water systems may have lost pressure or were disconnected from electrical power for a period of time,” the county said in a news release Thursday. “It is advisable to make sure it is not contaminated with coliform bacteria.”

Commodity distribution points, called C-PODs, have been set up to provide assistance to evacuees returning home.

Residents can access comfort kits, Personal Protective Equipment and bottled water at C-PODs set up at Greenfield Memorial Hall, 615 El Camino Real, in Greenfield; Carmel Valley Village, near the Chevron Station; and the intersection of Tassajara and Carmel Valley roads. C-PODs will be open Friday, Aug. 28, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition, all Monterey County evacuation shelters and centers are closing due to the reopening of these fire zones. The Monterey Conference Center, which had been used as an evacuation center, will be transitioning soon to host a Local Assistance Center for those impacted by the fires, Carroll said.

“Anyone needing assistance related to the fires before the center is open should contact 211,” she added.

The River Fire, which is currently 63% contained, has burned 48,732 acres and destroyed 30 buildings south of Salinas as of Thursday evening. Less than 2 miles away, the Carmel Fire has scorched 6,767 acres and destroyed 73 structures and is 65% contained.

More than 9,000 residents were evacuated from the fires burning through the mountain ranges west of the Salinas Valley, Cal Fire said.

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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