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September 18, 2020

Smoke advisory issued for Salinas Valley as Dolan Fire grows to 111,000 acres

Evacuation orders and warnings still in effect for areas west of Greenfield and King City

SALINAS VALLEY — Local fire agencies issued a smoke advisory Thursday for Salinas Valley due to the Dolan Fire’s increased activity in the Santa Lucia Mountains west of King City.

“Wildfire smoke continues to drift into Monterey County from fires as far as 100 miles away,” Cal Fire said in a news release Thursday. “This smoke will soar high in the atmosphere above the marine layer and will be pushed inland from the Pacific Ocean causing a gray-like sky. As the sun rises, you may see a yellow/orange glow that may appear to be a fire. This smoke will continue to drift away and will dissipate with time.”

Air quality will diminish over the next few days as the Dolan Fire continues to spread through Los Padres National Forest’s Ventana Wilderness and northern areas of Fort Hunter Liggett. According to the U.S. Forest Service, conditions may degrade to “unhealthy” levels Thursday night.

“The marine layer has returned to the vicinity and spread through the Salinas Valley to 1,500 feet,” the Forest Service said in its smoke outlook for Thursday and Friday. “If downslope winds materialize tonight, the Arroyo Seco will channel smoke into the Salinas Valley.”

Smoke from remnant heat in the River Fire, south of Salinas, dropped to Gonzales overnight, the Forest Service said. In addition, smoke from burnout operations near Fort Hunter Liggett flowed into Soledad and King City during the night.

Since Wednesday’s report, the Dolan Fire has grown by more than 17,000 acres.

“Heavy smoke from fires in Oregon, Washington and California mixed with the marine layer allowed firefighters to engage in burnout operations, which primarily contributed to yesterday’s perimeter growth,” the Forest Service said. “Burnouts were done along the Nacimiento-Fergusson and Del Venturi Roads and around Fort Hunter Liggett, which were supported by aircraft retardant and water drops. Northern fire lines were tested by southern winds and held.”

Wednesday night’s fire activity was “minimal,” the Forest Service reported, due to cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity levels.

The Dolan Fire, which originated about 10 miles south of Big Sur off Highway 1, has burned at least 111,382 acres and destroyed 14 structures. It is 26% contained as of Thursday morning. 

Monterey County Sheriff’s Office issued mandatory evacuation orders Wednesday for some areas west of Greenfield and King City. Those orders and warnings are still in effect.

“Crews are successfully completing burnout operations on the (south) side of the fire. The north and east sides of the fire continue to grow,” the Forest Service said. “Crews are evaluating structures for structural defense and scouting for control lines to stop fire growth.”

Nearly 800 personnel have been assigned to the Dolan Fire, which is now under unified command with Fort Hunter Liggett, the Forest Service said Thursday.

Ryan Cronk
Ryan Cronk
Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers education, government and general news for King City and occasionally for the surrounding communities in South Monterey County.

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