Wildfire Causes California Zen Center to Evacuate

Fire crew stays to run sprinkler system

 

 

Associated Press

BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — A wildfire burning near California’s central coast has forced the evacuation of a campground and Buddhist retreat center, authorities said Friday.

The fire began Thursday night in the Los Padres National Forest, about 15 miles southeast of Big Sur, amid hot and dry conditions and by Friday evening had spread to about 1,800 acres, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Andrew Madsen said.

The fire was burning east toward the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, a Buddhist monastery located in a remote valley. However, no buildings had burned.

The fire was climbing uphill among chaparral, grass and scrub. The steep, remote area meant that the 500 firefighters had to hike in to battle the flames, Madsen said.

They were aided by water-dropping aircraft.

However, the blaze was heading toward an area that burned last year, which could deprive it of fuel, Madsen said.

Most people evacuated the zen center but members of the zen center’s fire crew stayed in order to run a sprinkler system dubbed “Dharma rain,” said Sozan Miglioli, president of San Francisco Zen Center, which operates the monastery.

“Our water supplies are good and we are well prepared for this situation,” Miglioli said in a statement.

An evacuation order was also issued for the Arroyo Seco Campground, which was full ahead of the Father’s Day weekend, Olson said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, though Olson said thunder was observed in the area Thursday.

The fire sent up a plume of smoke that was visible miles away.

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