The Colorado Fire, still burning since Friday in Monterey County, was sparked by an ember from a burn pile on a nearby residential property, according to Cal Fire.
As of Wednesday morning, the wildfire burning near Big Sur was 55% contained, having burned a total of 700 acres. The fire has not grown in size since Saturday, and calmer weather has helped the firefight.
The fire began in Palo Colorado Canyon on January 21 just after 5 p.m., and officials now say they've determined the cause. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has done a quick investigation, and in a release Tuesday, Cal Fire said that embers from private burn pile were the likely culprit in starting the blaze.
"High winds blew the embers onto nearby vegetation, which ignited the fire," Cal Fire says.
The Chronicle reports that fire investigators are still investigating whether the residents who started the burn pile operation had a burn permit, as is required in the county.
Update: Calmer winds have helped firefighters on the #ColoradoFire.— Jakob Rodgers (@JakobRodgers) January 23, 2022
"Things are going really well. They're making progress," a CalFire official said.
Also, the fire burned right up to the Bixby Bridge, but didn't damage it.
The latest:https://t.co/wFiVhcOjsE#CAfire #CAwx pic.twitter.com/uUihqemfMF
Winds were whipping on Friday all over the Bay Area, and gusts were up to 50 miles per hour in the area of the fire, which is right next to Highway 1 and the Bixby Bridge. Caltrans officials previously said they were not concerned that the bridge was in any danger of damage from the fire. Overall dry conditions, despite this being January after a very wet December, contributed to the fire and its quick spread.
As some have noted, the fire is burning in a part of the coast that remained untouched by the 2016 Soberanes Fire.
The #ColoradoFire (red) is burning in a piece of the Coast that the 2016 Soberanes Fire (blue) didn't reach. A contract bulldozer operator died in a rollover trying to keep the fire out of this particular area. pic.twitter.com/bEAUbxhKC6— Zeke Lunder (@wildland_zko) January 23, 2022
Jon Heggie, a Cal Fire battalion chief, tells the Chronicle, "Obviously when there’s fire danger and high winds are blowing it’s not a good idea to have debris burning at any point, just because of the potential of starting a fire."
Photo courtesy of Alert Wildfire/PG&E