Michael Fiala / Reuters
A firefighter keeps watch over a burnout operation Wednesday along Highway 1 in Big Sur, Calif.
Firefighters made major progress Wednesday tamping down a late-fall wildfire that has destroyed homes in California’s scenic Big Sur region, incident commanders said Wednesday night, and it could be contained as early as Friday.
About 100 residents remained evacuated Wednesday night after having been forced to flee the so-called Pfeiffer fire in Los Padres National Park, which has destroyed almost 850 acres of the forested region, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, since it began Sunday.
Crews made significant progress holding the perimeter along all sections of the fire, and at 10 p.m. ET, the fire — which had been only 20 percent contained early in the morning — was at 74 percent containment, the joint state-federal incident management team said. It predicted full containment by late Friday afternoon.
Twenty-two buildings have been destroyed, including at least 14 homes. One of the homes belonged to Big Sur's fire chief.
One person suffered minor injuries in a fall Wednesday and was treated and released from a hospital, authorities said.
One troubling hurdle remained: A weather front moving in overnight was forecast to whip up winds as high as 30 mph. The incident management team said it was heavily staffing all areas of the fire in response, and late Wednesday more than 1,000 firefighters were assigned to the effort.
Smoke prompted the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District to issue an unhealthy air advisory for senior citizens, children and anyone with respiratory ailments.
California's fire season traditionally peaks by mid-fall, but the drought of the last several years has given the state essentially year-round danger.
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First published December 18 2013, 3:42 AM