Fire burns almost 500 acres in national forest, threatens homes

KING CITY, Calif. - Homes were threatened Sunday in a 500-acre out of control fire west of King City in the Los Padres National Forest, but evacuations were not immediately made, firefighters said.

Hot weather and winds hampered firefighting efforts and flames threatened some of the 30 homes in the Monterey County portion of the forest.

The fire began Saturday around 5 p.m., when a man camping with his wife on Plaskett Ridge, about 40 miles west of King City, tried to light the hot water heater in his camper, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Earl Clayton.

The man, whose name wasn't released, tried to light it with a piece of paper, which he accidentally dropped in the grass, igniting the blaze, Clayton said.

The fire is about three miles from the Fort Hunter Liggett Army Base, south of Big Sur.

The ridge, about 2 miles in from the coast, is covered in thick brush and the heat and 7- to 10-mph winds made the job of fighting the fire more difficult.

Fire officials said the fire is near streams with steelhead trout, and efforts were being made in aerial drops to keep fire retardant out of stream areas.

About 450 firefighters were assigned to the fire, with that number expected to increase. Firefighters had no estimate on when they would surround the fire.


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