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Deadly Soberanes fire north of Big Sur grows to 40,000 acres

The deadly wildfire raging north of Big Sur continued to grow in size on Sunday and has now burned 40,000 acres and destroyed nearly 70 structures.

About 5,300 firefighters are battling the Soberanes fire, which is now just 18% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Since it began July 22, the fire has also claimed the life of a bulldozer operator.

Pushed by strong southerly winds, the blaze has shifted away from coastal homes and is moving southeast into the heart of the Los Padres National Forest, said Maria Lara, spokeswoman for Cal Fire.

“It’s good in a way, but it means there will be more acreage burning,” Lara said. “It’s also more steep terrain to put our crews in, and sometimes we don’t have access to those areas.”

Cal Fire said that the blaze, which is larger than the area of the city of San Francisco, “remained active” on Sunday, traveling uphill and sending out embers that sparked spot fires.

Since it started at Soberanes Creek in Garrapata State Park, the fire spread and now threatens 2,000 homes and structures, according to Cal Fire. Some 57 homes and 11 outbuildings have been destroyed. Three homes and two buildings have also suffered damage.