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Rare Winter Wildfire Along Coast Tears Through Monterey County, Closes Highway 1

MONTEREY COUNTY (CBS13) — A winter wildfire is tearing through Monterey County, closing Highway 1 and forcing hundreds to evacuate.

Cal Fire says wildfires like the Colorado Fire are rare at the coast.

The last time we saw a major wildfire this time of year was about five years ago with the deadly Thomas Fire in Southern California. That fire started in December and burned well into March.

Now, some local crews are helping in Monterey County and call the conditions surreal.

"This just needs to get everybody's attention that there is no longer a fire season," Cal Fire spokesperson Cecile Juliette said. "We have fires all year round now in California."

An event typically reserved for the summer and fall months is now spilling over into atypical seasons as firefighters battle a rare, winter wildfire.

"The fact it's January and we had a fire of this size so close to the coast is of great concern," Juliette said.

The fast-moving Colorado Fire broke out Friday and was fueled by 50-mile-per-hour winds and dead vegetation.

"I mean it's wintertime right now, January, end of January," evacuee Jake Davi said. "It's pretty crazy to see a fire like this."

Davi was one of hundreds forced from their homes in Monterey County where a wall of flames jumped from the rugged mountains near Big Sur and took off toward the Pacific Ocean, forcing the Pacific Coast Highway to close.

Local crews from Amador and El Dorado County are helping in the fire fight with four aircraft taking off from McClellan airport. The resources come on the heels of Gov. Gavin Newsom accepting $600 million in aid to reduce wildfire risk from Vice President Kamala Harris.

"You heard about the loss of seven million acres just in the last two years in the state of California, but it's the fear of loss that's beyond just those acres. It's the fear of losing traditions, lifestyles, people," Newsom said.

While attacks from the air and the ground continue, officials are urging people to boil their tap water because the flames may have damaged the water system.

Crews have been able to gain some ground and containment stood at 40% Monday night while 700 acres have burned. One structure has been lost and no injuries have been reported.

What sparked it is still unclear.

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