crew works dolan fire

Firefighters working the Dolan Fire in August.

After burning for more than three months across 124,924 acres, from Big Sur in the west to Fort Hunter Liggett in the east, the Dolan Fire has been stuck at 98-percent containment for weeks. Even as the rainy season has begun to deliver light precipitation, it's not enough to stop the fire from smoldering and continuing to burn unburned green material within its existing perimeter. 

"We're looking for about 2 or 4 inches in order to call the Dolan Fire out," says Andrew Madsen, a spokesperson for Los Padres National Forest. 

So far this fall, Big Sur has received a total of 2 inches of precipitation, spaced out over a couple of weeks with relatively light rainfall. 

As long as the fire is still considered active by the U.S. Forest Service, the Monterey Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest remains closed—that includes popular day-use sites like Sand Dollar Beach, and all of the Ventana Wilderness. 

The district-wide closure order will expire when the fire is declared out.

Madsen says Forest Service officials have already communicated to representatives of concessionaire Parks Management Company, which is prepared to reopen campgrounds and day use areas once the Dolan Fire is 100-percent contained. 

"They are ready to reopen the gates, so all the developed campgrounds will be reopened just as soon as we get a little bit more rain up there," he says.

Meanwhile, a skeleton crew of 49 firefighters remains to observe and control the fire. 

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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