The Willow Fire, which was sparked five nights ago in a remote area of Monterey County east of Big Sur, between the burn scars of two recent large wildfires, continues to grow, but weather conditions slowed its growth on Monday.
The fire, which began in the Ventana Wilderness in Los Padres National Forest on Thursday evening, grew from 2,300 acres on Monday morning to 2,850 acres Monday night, as KSBW reports. It has been threatening the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center since Friday, but so far fire crews and wind conditions have kept the flames at bay.
The fire remains 0% contained as of Tuesday. 100 homes remain threatened along with 25 commercial buildings, but none have been damaged so far.
A multi-agency incident management team took over the firefight on Monday, bringing with it added resources and hot-shot teams that will be dropped into the remote fire zone by helicopter today.
As NBC Bay Area reports via fire officials, the fire is expected to continue burning at low to moderate intensity today, burning through chaparral of about six feet in height, and low brush and grass. More than 500 firefighters are now working the fire lines, and crews are expecting to begin structure defense at the Tassajara hot-springs and meditation retreat.
The retreat, situated in a remote canyon near Carmel and owned by the San Francisco Zen Center, typically has full-time students and Buddhist monks in residence, most of whom have been evacuated. Some monks have trained in firefighting — something that dates back to one of the last major fires to threaten the center, in 2008. The center has not been taking weekend or weekly guests since the pandemic began.
A low-pressure system is moderating temperatures both on the coast and inland, however another heatwave is heading to the Bay Area later this week, which could worsen conditions for the firefight.
Smoke from the fire was blowing northwest toward San Francisco Bay on Sunday night, but for now winds have shifted.
A look at #WillowFire this afternoon. Southerly winds are pushing the smoke plume northward towards the Bay Area, but the smoke is elevated, not near the surface. #BayArea #cawx pic.twitter.com/ukxD0FIEcY— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) June 21, 2021
Photo courtesy of PG&E