Central Coast Wildfires: Updates & Resources

Willow fire in steep terrain.
Credit Photo: Courtesy of nwcg.gov

The Willow Fire started on Thursday, June 17, 2021. The fire is currently burning in the Ventana Wilderness Northwest of the Arroyo Seco Recreation Area close to the Tassajara Zen Center and Hot Springs.

Updates & Resources:

Inciweb incident Information: Updates
Monterey County Emergency Services: Information

Those affected by wildfires can apply for disaster assistance by visiting disasterassistance.gov, downloading the FEMA app or calling (800) 621-3362.

Note: This page below also includes archived stories from past fire coverage.


U.S. Forest Service

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup for 6/25/21. Here you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few national stories from NPR.

Firefighting monks and emergency crews have been working to defeat a wildfire burning in the rural hills of Big Sur, Calif., since June 17.

The Willow Fire had burned 2,877 acres with just 13% of it contained as of Wednesday.

Though cooler temperatures this week helped slow the spread of the flames, local emergency services said crews are still fighting with difficult terrain that's hampering efforts to quickly contain the fire.

Doug McKnight / KAZU News

The embers of last year’s fire season in California have died out, but the memories of that horrible time are still fresh. As this year’s fire season begins, homeowners throughout the state are now looking for ways to protect their most valuable possession. 

National Weather Service

Fire season in California is now year round. That was very apparent locally when multiple fires ignited in Santa Cruz County late Monday, prompting evacuations. KAZU News reports on the weather conditions that precipitate wildfire.

Cal Fire CZU

Firefighters responded to multiple fires in Santa Cruz County Tuesday after high winds amid dry conditions. Two of the fires prompted evacuations. Those orders were lifted Wednesday.

Kevin Cooper

The rainy season is upon us here in the Monterey Bay area and because of this summer’s major wildfires, the season will be accompanied with a significant risk of debris flows. KAZU News reports on the many local communities at risk.

Michelle Loxton

Wildfires can have a lasting impact on the natural environment. New life can sprout from the ashes, but some things are lost forever. To understand the long-term impacts on the Monterey Bay area, we studied three examples: a beloved park, almost extinct birds and some famous trees.

Hannah Hagemann

When wildfire strikes, water infrastructure that’s made out of plastic is particularly at risk of contamination. If pipes and tanks lose pressure, or get hot, chemicals can leach into the water supply.

Season Of Change In Many Ways

Sep 18, 2020
Doug McKnight

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup where you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few select national stories from NPR.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a bill allowing inmate firefighters to have their records expunged, clearing the path for them to be eligible for firefighting jobs upon release.

Orange Skies And Other Stories

Sep 11, 2020
Erika Mahoney.

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup where you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few select national stories from NPR.

Steve Palumbi


Wildfire season is off to a record-breaking start in California, and the recovery will be a long process, especially for the hundreds of people on the Central Coast and throughout the state who have lost their homes.

Hannah Hagemann

A small crew of firefighters pack into a red fire engine and barrel up a road west of Brookdale in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They’re on mop up duty; scouting for new sources of smoke, looking for burned trees and any hot spots that could reignite the blaze.

With precision, farm workers swiftly harvest rows of strawberries at an organic field in Salinas, Calif. It's hard work, even without a global pandemic and wildfires burning in the background.

Four major wildfires erupted across the state's Central Coast in mid-August, one near Salinas. Smoke blanketed the region, the sun glowed orange and ash rained down.

"It hurt our sinuses," said Jesús Ahumada, an agricultural foreman, in Spanish. "The smoke was so thick."

Not Your Typical Monterey Bay Labor Day Weekend

Sep 4, 2020
Erika Mahoney

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup where you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few select national stories from NPR.

Hannah Hagemann

When the CZU Lightning Complex Fire ripped through northern Santa Cruz County and mandatory evacuations were triggered, a patchwork of people in Bonny Doon assembled to fight the blaze. They defied orders to defend their neighborhoods.