The Soberanes Fire was one of many fires that burned throughout local San Luis Obispo and Monterey in 2016. The Chimney and Soberanes Fire are both restoration sites from a result of high intensity burning wild fires. This site along with our other fire burned sites are part of a Cal Fire restoration program where we partner with local restoration groups to conduct high volume native seeding and seedling plantings, in order to help regain native vegetation growth to prevent mudslides and sediment erosion. To learn more about the fire's incidents, please read below.
The Soberanes Fire, which burned 57 homes and killed a bulldozer operator, cost about $236 million to suppress, making it at the time the most expensive wildfire to fight in United States history. The Soberanes was the result of an illegal campfire in Garrapata State Park. The fire burned 132,127 acres (53,470 ha) along the Big Sur coast in the Los Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness, and adjacent private and public land in Monterey County, California. At the fire's peak, over 5,000 personnel were assigned to the blaze. The Soberanes fire is the 18th of the top 20 largest California wildfires in terms of acres burned.
The fire was first reported by hikers in Garrapata State Park at 8:48 a.m. on Friday 22 July 2016, and was later determined to be the result of an illegal campfire. By Saturday morning, the fire had grown to 2,000 acres (810 ha) and forced the evacuation of about 300 homes in the community along Palo Colorado Canyon.
By the morning of Sunday 24 July, the fire had grown to over 10,000 acres (4,000 ha), with 5% of the perimeter contained. Officials said that Toro Park would be closed so that firefighters could use the area as a base camp. Evacuation warnings were also issued for all of Carmel Highlands.
By Saturday 30 July, the fire had spread south and east into the Los Padres National Forest.
Almost a month later on August 26, the fire had grown to over 90,000 acres (36,000 ha) and was only 60% contained. The majority of the fire by then was within the Los Padres National Forest and the Ventana Wilderness, and unified command of the fire suppression work was transferred from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to the United States Forest Service's Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team.
By September 18, the fire had increased in size to 113,260 acres (45,830 ha). Containment was still only 61%, and 1,921 firefighters were at work. Some evacuation orders on the northern perimeter had been lifted, and crews were working on burn-out operations to establish a containment line on the northeast side of the fire, near Chews Ridge. Heavy smoke resulted from the burnouts. As of 23 September 2016 the costs to fight the fire exceeded $200 million, the most expensive fire in United States history at the time.
On October 9, the fire had burned 132,127 acres (53,470 ha) and was 99% contained. Incident management personnel expected to attain full containment by October 15. Fire personnel had been reduced to 704 workers with many were engaged in fire suppression repair efforts. On October 28, three months after it was started, fire management personnel reported that the fire was 100% contained, and that remaining smoldering hotspots would be put out by rains expected shortly afterward. Restoration crews had completed suppression repair work on 374 miles (602 km) of fire line.