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19,000-acre Soberanes fire burning near Big Sur triggers several state park closures

Firefighters continued a five-day battle Tuesday against a raging wildfire north of Big Sur on Tuesday, fighting back flames that have spread to more than 19,000 acres and triggered several state park closures.

Water-dropping helicopters and air tankers were grounded Monday by a thick layer of fog and smoke, fire officials said. Firefighters were pressed to work through the night, and tackle extreme fire conditions in Garrapata State Park in Carmel, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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The Soberanes fire started burning Friday, scorching redwoods and sagebrush in Soberanes Creek. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Since the blaze erupted, hot temperatures and low humidity have plagued firefighters, who have struggled to gain access to the flames smoldering in steep and rocky hillsides. The blaze is 10% contained.

"We are starting to get into the fatigue time because of so many days on the fire, and just continually fighting this fire aggressively does take its toll on firefighters," Cal Fire Capt. Lucas Spelman told KSBW-TV.

A wildfire burns in the Palo Colorado Canyon in the scenic Big Sur region of the Central Coast on Monday, July 25, 2016. Fire crews have made some gains against a massive wildfire burning in rugged terrain.
A wildfire burns in the Palo Colorado Canyon in the scenic Big Sur region of the Central Coast on Monday, July 25, 2016. Fire crews have made some gains against a massive wildfire burning in rugged terrain. (David Royal / The Monterey County Herald/AP)

More than 1,600 structures remained threatened by the flames, which have destroyed at least 20 homes and two outbuildings.

Some 300 residents have been evacuated in Palo Colorado and the areas of Rocky Creek, Weston Ridge Road, Garrapatos Road and Highway 1 at Old Coast Road south to Old Coast Road at Bixby Creek Road.

Palo Colorado, Robinson Canyon Road and Weston Ridge roads at Highway 1 were closed.

On Tuesday, crews received more resources to tackle the fire.

At least 2,300 firefighters, 215 engines, 48 hand crews, 14 helicopters and six air tankers have deployed to the fire burning in rural Monterey County.

Smoke from the blaze blanketed the region and affected air quality.

When smoke settled over Carmel Valley overnight, air quality became worse than in Beijing, according to the National Weather Service in San Francisco.

The large fire prompted the closures of several state parks. The following closures were listed: Andrew Molera State Park; Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park; Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park; Point Sur Lighthouse State Historic Park; Pine Ridge Trail to Sykes Hot Springs; and Mount Manuel Trail.

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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