Big Sur wildfire causes evacuations as Harris visits state to announce federal plan California

On the day Vice President Kamala Harris visited California to highlight new means of fighting wildfires, residents in the Big Sur area, more than 350 miles away, were told to evacuate their homes because of a new fire.

Monterey County officials ordered the evacuations late Friday after the fire in Colorado grew to more than 1,500 acres.

Officials closed Highway 1 in both directions from Andrew Molera State Park to Carmel-By-The-Sea. The American Red Cross set up an emergency shelter.

A wind warning was issued in the San Francisco Bay Area from Friday night through Saturday morning, although forecasters said strong winds were most likely at higher elevations, according to the National Weather Service.

Earlier in the south of the state, Harris was joined by Gov. Gavin Newsom and Alex Padilla, the Democrat who replaced Harris in the US Senate, as they inspected wildfire damage from the sky, visited a federal fire station and outlined new planned spending reductions the risk of forest fires and dealing with their consequences.

Harris also announced $600 million in disaster relief for the US Forest Service in California.

The vice president praised the work of the firefighters and credited the cooperation between governments “unencumbered by politics,” an apparent indication of friction between heavily Democratic California and the Trump administration.

She said the government is “putting resources where they are needed” to fight fires and the climate crisis.

A few protesters joined spectators on Harris’s walk to the fire station, where at the entrance, a lone protester waved a US flag and shouted a derogatory slogan about Joe Biden.

On Friday, Harris’s office raised allocations of $1 billion to create plans to protect communities from wildfires, $650 million to clean up burned areas and nearly $2.4 billion to manage hazardous ones fuels.

Earlier this week, the government said it would expand efforts to fight wildfires by thinning forests around “hot spots” where nature and neighborhood collide.

As climate change dries up the western US, officials say they have devised a $50 billion plan to more than double the use of controlled fires and logging to reduce tinder in at-risk areas. Only part of the work is funded.

A bipartisan group of a dozen California lawmakers has announced it will hire more than 1,100 professional wilderness firefighters to help fight the blaze as inmates dwindle.

The state has had historic wildfire seasons in recent years, including last year when two intense fires crossed the rocky bastion of the Sierra Nevada for the first time, one of which threatened tourist destinations on Lake Tahoe. Of the 10 largest wildfires in the state’s recorded history, eight have occurred in the past five years.

Firefighters have worked up to 40 days straight, leading to increased burnout and mental health problems.

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