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May 20, 2022

Willow Fire grows to 1,500 acres; evacuations in place

BIG SUR — Evacuations have been issued for a wildfire that broke out Thursday night in the Los Padres National Forest about 7 miles west of the Arroyo Seco Campground.

The fire, named the Willow Fire, has grown to at least 1,500 acres and is 0% contained as of Friday evening. It is currently burning north of the 2020 Dolan Fire burn scar at Willow Creek and Marble Peak Trail, southeast of Big Sur.

Monterey County Sheriff’s Office has issued an Evacuation Order for Tassajara Road northwest to China Camp Campground. This includes tributary Forest Routes and the Tassajara Zen Center.

Evacuation Warnings were also issued for Arroyo Seco Road, from Millers Ranch at the Carmel Valley Road junction west to the Arroyo Seco Campground, and for Tassajara Road, from China Camp Campground northwest to Kincannon Canyon.

The warning stops at the Los Padres National Forest boundary and does not include Kincannon Road or tributaries of Jamesburg or Cachagua Road.

Late Friday afternoon, another Evacuation Warning was issued for areas north of Arroyo Seco Campground northwest to Anastasia Canyon; west of Carmel Valley Road and east of Tassajara Road. This does not include Lambert Flatts, Cachagua Road or areas east of Carmel Valley Road.

Evacuations have been issued for areas near the Willow Fire, which broke out June 18 southeast of Big Sur. (Contributed Graphic)

Arroyo Seco Recreation Area announced that the campground and day-use area were closed until at least Monday, June 21, due to the fire. Any reservations for the weekend have been canceled and refunded.

Congressman Jimmy Panetta said on Facebook that he is closely tracking the Willow Fire.

“This emerging fire is burning on the 2016 Soberanes burn scar, near the perimeters of the 2020 River, Carmel, and Dolan fires,” Panetta said. “I am in touch with the U.S. Forest Service and local elected officials to ensure we all work together to secure the resources we need to keep our communities safe.”

The U.S. Forest Service is the lead agency on the Willow Fire, with Cal Fire assisting. An estimated 300 firefighters are responding to the wildfire.

“Air support including fixed-wing air tankers and water-dropping helicopters are assisting crews on the ground,” the Forest Service reported in an incident overview Friday. “The fire is burning in steep, rugged and brushy terrain that is accessible only by hiking in. Weather conditions are hot and dry with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees with low humidity levels.”

Monterey County Office of Emergency Services has created a Willow Fire webpage, which includes a Fire Evacuation Zones map and emergency notifications.

Ryan Cronk
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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