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Willow Fire: Good Weather Aiding Firefighters Near Big Sur; Containment Reaches 13%

BIG SUR, Monterey County (AP) — An influx of moist and cool ocean air was helping Wednesday as more than 500 firefighters worked to suppress a forest fire burning in California coastal mountains near a remote Buddhist monastery south of Big Sur.

The Willow Fire was 13% contained with just under 4.5 square miles (11.6 square kilometers) burned. Firefighters took advantage of the weather to continue improving lines, Los Padres National Forest said.

The improved conditions were expected to continue for another day.

The fire is a threat to about 125 homes and other buildings including the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center.

Crew clearing vegetation in steep terrain while battling the Willow Fire near Bug Sur in Monterey County, June 22, 2021. (U.S. Forest Service)

Seven firefighting monks have been clearing brush and running a sprinkler system dubbed "Dharma rain," which helps keep moisture around the buildings, said Sozan Miglioli, president of San Francisco Zen Center, which operates the monastery.

"The blaze is about a mile away but we've been lucky with the weather, it has really cooled down," Miglioli said Tuesday.

In the Sierra Nevada, a wildfire in the Whitney Portal area was calm overnight after growing to more than 600 acres (243 hectares) but winds were a concern Wednesday, the Inyo National Forest said.

Whitney Portal is a major starting point for hikers climbing Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States.

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