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Salinas Valley prescribed burn spreads to 400 acres

Published On: Mar 19 2014 09:04:35 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 20 2014 07:29:53 PM CDT

Controlled fire jumps containment lines; winds scare crews

SALINAS, Calif. -

Dozens of firefighters are still battling a fire that's now spread to 400 acres just southeast of Salinas. As of around 5 p.m. Thursday, CAL FIRE officials were reporting the blaze was about 50 percent contained. Around 200 firefighters were expected to continue battling the blaze overnight.

The fire started out as a prescribed burn on a private property off Encinal Road Wednesday evening, according to fire officials. Crews had to respond to the blaze shortly before 6:30 p.m. 

CAL FIRE responded with one helicopter, one air tactical plane, two air tankers, two battalion chiefs, three bulldozers, three wildland fire engines, four hand crews, and one fire investigator.

Shortly before 10:30 p.m., CAL FIRE released their firefighting aircraft for the night and crews returned Thursday morning.

The original burn was started under proper permitting.  The property owner was the reporting party, and advised 911 that his private prescribed burn had escaped containment, according to CAL FIRE.

CAL FIRE told Central Coast News iWednesday night that no structures are threatened, and no injuries are reported as a result of this fire.

Central Coast News Chief Meteorologist Norm Hoffmann is tracking the fire conditions. "We continue to talk about dry fuels around the Central Coast with above normal temperatures," said Hoffmann. 

The high temperature was 80 degrees near the burn area Wednesday afternoon. Temperatures this evening are in the upper 60s. Winds were out of the south Wednesday afternoon 5 to 15 mph, but they have shifted around to the north northwest that evening at 5 to 10 mph.

Relative humidity dropped into the teens Wednesday afternoon and dropped to 15% in the area of the control burn.

Dry conditions, warm temperatures and some wind has affected this fire behavior this afternoon, according to Hoffmann.

According to Joe Rawitzer, President of the Monterey San Benito Range Improvement Association, the area of the controlled burn escape on Encinal Road is burning in an area planned to be burned within the Monterey County Community Wildfire Protection Plan as part of the Gabilan Range Strategic Fuel Break.

It was part of an effort to remove hazardous heavy fuel loads through the overall County Fire Plan, and to reduce fire hazards before the fire season gets worse.