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More campgrounds and hiking trails closed as Big Sur fire continues to burn

More campgrounds and hiking trails closed as Big Sur fire continues to burn
Flames engulf a stand of trees as crews work at the fringe of the Soberanes fire, right, on Saturday. (David Royal / Monterey County Herald)

Popular campgrounds and hiking trails near Big Sur remained off-limits for the holiday weekend as fire crews continued their six-week battle against a blaze burning in the Los Padres National Forest.

Federal officials said Saturday morning that with the Soberanes fire only about 60% contained, they were expanding a closure order to cover a swath of the national forest in Monterey County from north of Big Sur to the San Luis Obispo County line.

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The areas closed to the public includes the forest's Monterey Ranger District, a region known for scenic wilderness with coastal redwood groves, steep canyons and dramatic peaks.

The closures are designed to prevent injuries and reduce the potential for another accidental wildfire, officials said.

The Soberanes fire started July 22 with an illegal campfire in Garrapata State Park. The fire has consumed nearly 96,000 acres and 57 homes. A 35-year-old bulldozer operator working with Cal Fire died in a rollover accident while working to extinguish the fire in July.

Thirteen crews totaling more than a thousand people are using helicopters and controlled burns this weekend in an effort to get control of the blaze.

Despite the forest closures, many attractions in the coastal region are open. Businesses along Highway 1 are generally open as is Hearst Castle, Big Sur Lodge, Point Sur Light Station and portions of Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park.

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