Big Sur fires force closure of parks, lodgings
There's bad wildfire news coming out of Big Sur, and indeed, all the way to the Oregon border today. As reported earlier by The Times' Eric Bailey and Steve Chawkins:
Firefighters bolstered their defenses today against an expanding wildfire that threatened homes on the fabled 70-mile coastal strip of Big Sur while they braced at the same time for fresh lightning strikes that could ignite new fires across Northern California.
The blazes prompted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this morning to request that President Bush declare a state of emergency in the region. The counties covered by his request are Butte, Mendocino, Monterey, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta and Trinity.
Nearly 1,100 fires were burning in the region from San Jose to the Oregon border, said Jason Kirchner, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. Those are in addition to the two gigantic blazes that have charred some 134 square miles in the Los Padres National Forest.
This in turn has led to the closure of Highway 1 (from Esalen in the south to the Ventana Inn & Spa on the north) and a spate of parks and lodgings. Here's a partial list of closures courtesy of Mary Forgione and the L.A. Times' Travel blog:
Tassajara Zen Center in Carmel Valley: This inland site was evacuated Monday and has canceled all reservations through Tuesday. “We’re still hoping things will improve,” says spokeswoman Doris Harder from an office in San Francisco. She estimated the fire to be about three miles away and added that firefighters are at the center.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (the one with the big, mesmerizing waterfall), Andrew Molera State Beach and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park are closed until further notice, according to a California State Parks spokesman. “We hate to close them because people had plans, and they’ll do just about anything to keep those plans,” says parks spokesman Roy Stearns.
Parkland in Los Padres National Park is closed north of Nacimiento-Ferguson Road
Post Ranch Inn, the upscale hotel on the cliffs above Big Sur, been closed this week but plans to reopen on Saturday, according to front desk agent Kelly Hay. “Some are canceling, some are keeping their reservations,” Hay said today. She said the fire is burning about six miles south of the inn.
Ventana Inn & Spa in Big Sur also has been closed this week and plan to reassess the situation with an eye toward reopening on Sunday, said customer agent Freda Plantin.
Nepenthe restaurant in Big Sur has been closed and plans to reopen about 5 p.m. today.
For more updates, try the San Francisco Zen Center and the Sitting with Fire blog.
For photo gallery, go here,
For map of Big Sur fire, go here.
For Associated Press video of firefighters working to contain the blazes, check after the jump.
-- Liam Gowing
Photo of Big Sur fire by Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press