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UPDATE: Willow Fire Near Big Sur Grows To 2800 Acres, Still Zero Percent Contained

MONTEREY COUNTY (CBS/BCN/AP) -- The Willow Fire burning out of control east of Big Sur has grown to more than 2800 acres and is threatening dozens of homes and businesses.

Officials say the fire will "continue to burn through the night with low to moderate intensity."

Early on Monday, fire crews saw minimal growth overnight.

The blaze, first reported on June 17, was 2,088 acres as of Sunday afternoon -- up slightly from 2,066 acres on Saturday night. The fire remains zero percent contained, fire officials said.

Increased humidity overnight helped slow the wildfire but vegetation in the area remains critically dry and provides more fuel for the fire's spread, according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service.

The blaze has been difficult to access due to the steep terrain and safety concerns, fire officials said.

More than 450 firefighters had to hike in to battle the flames, officials said. They're aided by water-dropping aircraft.

Residents near the fire zone have been evacuated from Tassajara Zen Center to China Camp. There is an evacuation warning for areas north of Arroyo Seco Campground to Anastasia Canyon, west of Carmel Valley Road and east of Tassajara Road.

According to U.S. Forest Service spokesman Andrew Madsen, the blaze began around 8 p.m. Thursday night in the Los Padres National Forest in the Ventana Wilderness northwest of the Arroyo Seco recreation area.

Smoke Plume from Willow Fire Burning in Monterey County
Willow Fire burning near Big Sur

The fire was burning east toward the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, a Buddhist monastery located in a remote valley. However, no buildings had burned.

Flames were climbing uphill among chaparral, grass and scrub.

Most people evacuated the zen center but members of the zen center's fire crew stayed in order to run a sprinkler system dubbed "Dharma rain," said Sozan Miglioli, president of San Francisco Zen Center, which operates the monastery.

"Our water supplies are good and we are well prepared for this situation," Miglioli said in a statement.

The Willow Fire is burning near burn scars of two other recent major wildfires, last year's Dolan Fire and the Soberanes fire of 2016.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report

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