Environment & Science

Soberanes Fire: Bulldozer operator killed working fire in Big Sur

Firefighters continued to fight the Soberanes Fire in Big Sur from the air and the ground on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.
Firefighters continued to fight the Soberanes Fire in Big Sur from the air and the ground on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.
Cal Fire via Twitter
Firefighters continued to fight the Soberanes Fire in Big Sur from the air and the ground on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.
A firefighter from the Palo Alto and Santa Clarita County strike team works on the Soberanes Fire on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.
Palo Alto Fire Department via Twitter


A bulldozer operator fighting the massive wildfire outside of Big Sur was killed overnight working the blaze that has now spread to more than 36 square miles.

The name and age of the operator was not immediately available. Details of how the accident happened were also not immediately available.

Another bulldozer operator escaped injury when the piece of equipment rolled over and sustained minor damage.

Firefighters working around the clock got a break early Wednesday from cooler temperatures and increased humidity. The blaze has destroyed 20 homes and is threatening 2,000 more. It was only 10 percent contained early Wednesday.

Fire Tracker: Soberanes Fire in Monterey County

Meanwhile, eight hikers are recovering after being rescued from the fire lines on the south side of the massive blaze.

KNTV reports Wednesday that officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection say the men went hiking last weekend and became lost. They had little water and food.

When the fire broke out, the men became stranded and didn't know which direction would lead them to safety, the station reported.

Bulldozing crews spotted the men Tuesday. Search and rescue crews from the Monterey County Sheriff's Department, along with the bulldozer operators, evacuated them to a campground.

None of the hikers were seriously injured.

State parks near Big Sur remain closed, though a scenic stretch of California's Highway 1 is open.

The fire has threatened to crest a ridge and make a run toward coastal campgrounds, lodges and redwoods.

To the south, firefighters continue to make progress containing a huge blaze in mountains outside Los Angeles. Crews face another day of temperatures in the 90s to low 100s as they fight the fire that has destroyed 18 homes near Santa Clarita.