ENVIRONMENT

Here's The Devastation Left Behind By Big Sur's Wildfire

The massive blaze is still just 18 percent contained.
A scorched exercise bike sits on the edge of a slope at the site of a destroyed house after the Soberanes fire.
A scorched exercise bike sits on the edge of a slope at the site of a destroyed house after the Soberanes fire.

California’s Soberanes fire has more than doubled in size in the past week, scorching more than 43,000 acres along the state’s picturesque central coast and leaving mounds of ashes where homes once stood. 

The fire, which has been burning in Soberanes Creek, Garrapata State Park and the area north of Big Sur since July 22, is now larger than San Francisco, the Weather Channel noted Monday. It’s destroyed 57 homes, damaged another three, forced 350 people to evacuate and left one person dead, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Tuesday morning. It’s still only 18 percent contained and threatens 2,000 other structures

“Fire continues to burn in steep, rugged and inaccessible terrain,” the department, known as Cal Fire, said in Tuesday’s update.

Californians have become familiar with such catastrophic wildfires in recent years, as nearly five years of drought and record-high temperatures have dried up forests and primed them for massive blazes. Cal Fire said last month it responded to twice as many fires in the first half of 2016 as in that period of 2015.

“Your mind sort of rejects something that is so not natural,” Calaveras County resident Kim Dougherty, who lost her home in last fall’s Butte fire, told The Huffington Post at the time. “It’s hard to imagine the enormity of it because you don’t even realize that your favorite tool, a screwdriver you’ve carried with you for the last 40 years, is gone. I don’t have my favorite mixing bowl that was handed down to me.”

See photos below of the scorched remnants of the Soberanes fire:

  • A vehicle covered in fire retardant from an aerial tanker.
    Michael Fiala/Reuters
    A vehicle covered in fire retardant from an aerial tanker.
  • Fires burn at Garrapata State Park next to the Pacific Ocean.
    Michael Fiala/Reuters
    Fires burn at Garrapata State Park next to the Pacific Ocean.
  • A swimming pool and a chimney remain at the site of a destroyed house. 
    Michael Fiala/Reuters
    A swimming pool and a chimney remain at the site of a destroyed house. 
  • A destroyed home is seen after the Soberanes Fire burned through the Palo Colorado area, north of Big Sur, California.
    Michael Fiala/Reuters
    A destroyed home is seen after the Soberanes Fire burned through the Palo Colorado area, north of Big Sur, California.
  • The burned landscape is seen through the cab of a vehicle.
    Michael Fiala/Reuters
    The burned landscape is seen through the cab of a vehicle.
  • Tom Stokesberry with the U.S. Forest Service surveys a destroyed home. 
    Michael Fiala/Reuters
    Tom Stokesberry with the U.S. Forest Service surveys a destroyed home. 
  • A charred Virgin Mary statue sits in a garden at the site of a destroyed home.
    Michael Fiala/Reuters
    A charred Virgin Mary statue sits in a garden at the site of a destroyed home.
  • A motorcycle sits at the site of a destroyed home. 
    Michael Fiala/Reuters
    A motorcycle sits at the site of a destroyed home. 
  • Tom Stokesberry with the U.S. Forest Service walks past a destroyed car. 
    Michael Fiala/Reuters
    Tom Stokesberry with the U.S. Forest Service walks past a destroyed car. 
  • A pile of melted bottles sit on the ground.
    Michael Fiala/Reuters
    A pile of melted bottles sit on the ground.
  • A garden structure is seen at the site of a destroyed home. 
    Michael Fiala/Reuters
    A garden structure is seen at the site of a destroyed home. 
  • "Thank You Firefighters" is written on the dust-covered rear window of a Big Sur resident's vehicle.
    Michael Fiala/Reuters
    "Thank You Firefighters" is written on the dust-covered rear window of a Big Sur resident's vehicle.
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