MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - The deadly wildfire in Monterey County is intensifying, growing to 31,386 acres. The Soberanes fire has burned down 51 structures including 41 homes with containment at 15 percent. On Thursday, 35-year-old Robert Reagan from Fresno area was identified as the bulldozer operator killed in the fire fight.
Cal Fire is estimating full containment won't happen until of the end of next month. The fire is unpredictable and stubborn. They're calling in more resources, with 50-100 more engines to Carmel Valley to try and get ahead of it.
As the Soberanes fire spreads in the remote, steep canyons, north of Big Sur, residents who are forced to leave their homes are growing more anxious, not knowing when they can return or what they'll return to. For residents who lost their homes, they are numb.
"Within 45 minutes, it went a quarter mile destroyed two houses on the way up and then ours," said Olaf Lang who's home was destroyed. "The hardest part is when I get back out there and see how flat it is."
"The fire was fierce," said Patricia Ebert who's home was destroyed. "It came so fast and ferocious we figured there wasn't much chance it was going to survive."
350 residents evacuated as 2,000 homes lie in the fire's path.
Nearly a week-old fire, more than 4,200 fire personnel have been called in now with heavy hearts. Private contractor Robert Reagan, who leaves behind a wife and two daughters, was killed Tuesday while operating a bulldozer at the fire's southeast end. The community remembered Reagan with a moment of silence at Thursday's community meeting.
Crews work around the clock removing drought-stricken trees and clearing brush. Downed power lines, falling trees and the changing weather, hampering the fire fight.
"The fire is in one of the most difficult stretches of land to fight fires," said Cal Fire Division Chief Steven Beach. "Historically fires in this region give us a lot of problems."
The battle to contain the fire is long and strenuous. The community is rallying behind them.
"A bunch of people got together on Facebook. We met at Safeway, started a donation and as you can see got tons of stuff," said Frank Jenkins from the Carmel Valley area.
"Thank you what can you say, you are doing everything you can to save our homes," said Jan White of Carmel Valley area.
Six state parks are closed with the weekend approaching. Frustrated residents want Highway 1 to be shut down since it's difficult for fire trucks and tourists to drive on the two-lane highway. Authorities are keeping the highway open considering businesses rely on tourism dollars.