California Wildfires: Progress in Containment
As Sunday dawns with the promise of high temperatures, authorities are claiming slow progressa gainst the blazes, which are still only 5% contained.
Saturday's firefighting efforts went according to plan, the U.S. Forest Service said. The outlook, however, remained mixed Saturday night. Sunday's weather forecast gave encouragement to crews battling a fire in Santa Barbara County, but sparked concern among those fighting a blaze in the Big Sur area.
Containment of the Basin Complex Fire, in the Big Sur area, remained at 5 percent, but firefighters were close to completing a fire line along the northwest portion of the fire, the Forest Service said. On Sunday a controlled burning operation is to begin there to remove brush and other fuel from the wildfire's path.
But Sunday's forecast for the area was for much warmer temperatures, which could give the fire a boost, officials said.
Meanwhile, a 48-year-old homeowner was arrested for setting backfires without permission as firefighters continue to battle two of California's most threatening wildfires.
The man was arrested for setting backfires around his home near the Big Sur area, Cliff Williams of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Saturday night. A backfire is a fire started to check an advancing fire by creating a burn area.
Firefighters discourage residents from setting backfires because homeowners do not know the location of firefighters and can inadvertently trap them, Williams said. The fire can also get out of control and injure other residents, he said.
Meanwhile, the fire is taking care of some law-enforcement dirty work:
Hidden among the 80,000 acres torched by the Indians Fire so far, there could be millions of dollars worth of charred pot plants.
"There are a lot of outdoor pot gardens in the forest services lands," said Sgt. Daniel Karamitis with the Sheriff's Office's narcotics unit.
The forests of Monterey County have long been fertile land for large-scale pot growers who hide large quantities of their crop among the trees.