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Weary Firefighters Making Steady Progress Battling Willow Fire In Monterey County Wilderness

BIG SUR, Monterey County (CBS SF) -- Firefighters battling the Willow Fire, burning in the treacherous terrain of the Los Padres National Forest wilderness, increased containment to 56 percent late Saturday with 2,877 acres having been charred by the blaze.

The firefight has been aided over the last five days by cooling temperatures streaming in from the fog layer off the Central California coast.

"The last five days of favorable weather have significantly reduced the heat within the Willow Fire area and enabled firefighters to extinguish individual hot spots and remain prepared to assist in initial attack on any new fire starts," fire officials said in a statement.

Hotter, drier conditions Saturday did not prevent crews from making solid progress in solidifying control lines around the blaze.

"Firefighting resources no longer needed to meet the fire suppression objectives are being slowly released back to their home units or being reassigned to other fires," officials said.

An evacuation order remains in effect for the area west of Santa Lucia Creek, east of Black Cone Peak, north of the Dolan Fire scar and south of the Tassajara Hot Springs.

Evacuation orders have been downgraded to warnings for the following areas:

  • Tassajara Road from the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center northwest to China Camp Campground in the Los Padres National Forest, includes tributary forest routes and the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center.
  • All areas of Arroyo Seco Road west of Woodtick Canyon, to include the Arroyo Seco Campground, Rocky Creek and Camp Cawatre.

Several roadways that were shut down at the height of the firefight were also reopened on Friday. They include: Arroyo Seco and Carmel Valley Road; Carmel Valley Road at Tassajara Road and Tassajara Road at Cachagua Road.

More than 500 personnel responded to the fire at its height. The blaze threatened 100 residences and 25 commercial units. So far, there have no reports of any deaths or any structures damaged.

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