Firefighters maneuver down steep terrain Monday to help battle the Willow Fire, burning southeast of Big Sur in the Los Padres National Forest. (Photo courtesy of USFS)

BIG SUR — A wildfire southeast of Big Sur in the Los Padres National Forest has charred at least 2,392 acres in steep, rugged terrain, triggering mandatory evacuations in the area.

Monterey County officials have issued evacuation orders for Tassajara Road, from China Camp Campground to the Tassajara Zen Center, including tributary Forest Routes, and all areas of Arroyo Seco Road west of Woodtick Canyon, including Arroyo Seco Campground, Rocky Creek Road and Camp Cawatre.

Evacuation warnings were also issued for Tassajara Road, from China Camp Campground northwest to Kincannon Canyon; for areas north of Arroyo Seco Campground to Anastasia Canyon, west of Carmel Valley Road and east of Tassajara Road; and for areas east of Woodtick Canyon on Arroyo Seco Road to Millers Ranch at the Carmel Valley Road junction.

The Willow Fire, which fire officials say is not accessible by road, got underway June 17 at 8 p.m. in the Los Padres National Forest, about 7 miles west of the Arroyo Seco Campground. It is burning north of the 2020 Dolan Fire burn scar at Willow Creek and Marble Peak Trail, southeast of Big Sur.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, an estimated 451 firefighters have responded to the fire, which is 0% contained as of Monday. No cause has been reported.

The wildfire is currently threatening 100 residences and 25 mixed commercial/residential structures in the area, county officials said Monday.

The campground and day-use area at Arroyo Seco Recreation Area are closed until at least Wednesday due to the fire. Any reservations have been canceled and refunded.

The U.S. Forest Service is the lead agency on the Willow Fire, with Cal Fire assisting.

“Firefighters on the ground are making a strong effort to stop further spread to the north and west flank of the fire line with the assistance of air support,” the Forest Service reported in an incident overview Monday. “Crews are continuing to prepare for structure defense in the Tassajara Zen Center and the Arroyo Seco campground area. They have been scouting ridges where previous fire control lines were built to possibly utilize them again.”

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

Tarmo Hannula contributed to this article.

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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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