Soberanes fire grows to more than 40,000 acres

A Monterey County wildfire has spread to 40,618 acres but firefighters increased containment to 18 percent, Cal Fire officials said.

The Soberanes Fire that started at 8:48 a.m. on July 22 north of Big Sur may not be contained until the end of next month.

"We'll be here for a while," Cal Fire spokesman Henry Herrera said.

The fire is burning in steep and rugged terrain.

Herrera said there are no roads in some areas so firefighters are using any trails to get to the fire as well as bulldozers.

The north end of the fire is about a mile south of Carmel Highlands.

The fire follows U.S. Highway 1 south to about two miles north of Big Sur and west to about four miles east of the communities of Tassajara, Carmel Valley and Cachagua.

One person has died in the fire.

Bulldozer driver Robert Oliver Reagan III, 35, of Friant in Fresno County died when his bulldozer overturned as he was working on the front lines, according to Cal Fire officials.

The fire has destroyed 57 homes and 11 sheds and damaged five other buildings.

The fire is threatening about 2,000 structures, Cal Fire officials said.

More than 5,000 personnel are working to extinguish the fire, which has closed state parks from Point Lobos State Natural Reserve to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park as well as the Los Padres National Forest.

The low humidity in the area allowed the fire to spread Saturday night, Herrera said. But fortunately temperatures have been cooler since Saturday, he said.

Evacuations are in effect for all homes along Cachagua Road from its intersection with Nason Road to the intersection with Tassajara Road and all homes on Tassajara Road from East Carmel Valley Road to the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center.

Evacuations are also in place for Robinson Canyon Road from San Clemente Trail to White Rock Gun Club, for Robinson Canyon to Rancho San Clemente Gate House including Arroyo Sequoia Road, for the community of Palo Colorado, for Bixby Creek Road from state Highway 1 south to Mesa Road, for the area between Cantera Run to Garzas Trail and for Old Coast Road and Rocky Creek Road.

Roads that are closed include Palo Colorado Road at U.S. Highway 1, Robinson Canyon Road south of Penon Peak Trail and Weston Ridge Road at Highway 1.

Evacuations have been lifted for Red Wolf Drive, Corona Road, and Riley Ranch Road and all of Carmel Highland.

Acting Gov. Tom Torlakson, the state's superintendent of public instruction, declared a state of emergency in Monterey County on Tuesday.

Gov. Jerry Brown was away at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Because of the amount of destruction the Federal Emergency Management Agency is making grant money available for eligible firefighting costs.

Help is available for residents and pet owners.

Pet owners who need help rescuing, feeding or sheltering their pets can get help from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Monterey County at (831) 373-2631.

Residents affected by the fire can get help from the Monterey County Department of Social Services at (800) 755-4400 or the American Red Cross of the Central Coast at (866) 272-2237.

An evacuation center is on standby at Carmel Middle School at 4380
Carmel Valley Road in Carmel-By-The Sea.