Devastating wildfire is just 10 miles south of annual event

With the 66th annual Monterey Car Week kicking off in a few days, some 85,000 auto enthusiasts are expected to arrive on the central California coast to take part in various car shows, auctions, racing events, and cruises. However, attendees will need to share the road with the 5,000 firefighters currently battling a devastating wildfire located just south of Monterey.

One of the biggest issues is access to Highway 1, the main artery that runs north to south through the central coast. With the huge increase in traffic expected for MCW, concerns are being raised over whether or not firefighters will be able to get to and from the frontlines.

However, according to a report from local NBC affiliate KSBW, Cal Fire and the California Highway Patrol have given the event the go-ahead, and are working with organizers to make sure firefighting efforts aren’t hampered.

Some of the changes include a truncated route for the Tour d’Elegance, a classic car cruise that traditionally includes a run south into Big Sur. This year, the route has been shortened to 35 miles, rather than the usual 70. There will also be stricter parking enforcement, and additional law enforcement in high-traffic areas.

So far, the Soberanes wildfire has burned more than 70,000 acres and destroyed 57 homes. Hundreds of locals have been forced to flee, and the fire has been blamed for three injuries and one fatality. Acting Governor Tom Torlakson has declared a state of emergency in Monterey County.

Thankfully, the majority of the firefighting effort is now centralized south of Monterey, and it’s expected that the increase in traffic won’t have a major impact on firefighting efforts.

“We feel pretty comfortable that we are able to get in and out of the areas that we need to in case of emergency,” Cal Fire Capt. Mark Edria told KSBW.

Cal Fire is reporting that the fire is currently 60 percent contained. You can find updates on the firefighting efforts here.

The wildfire is thought to have originated from an illegal campfire in Garrapata State Park.

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The Full Story

It comes as little surprise that Monterey Car Week will go forward more or less as planned despite the presence of a major wildfire just south of the event. Not only is MCW one of the biggest car events in the world, it’s also a major economic driver for the local economy, bringing in tens of millions of dollars annually, plus millions in tax revenue.

But as you might expect, not everyone is happy, in particular the locals. There’s currently a petition posted to calling for the event to be moved or postponed. As of this writing, the petition has collected 1,377 signatures.

Beyond the potential effects MCW will have on firefighting efforts, there’s also the question of how much the smoke and ash will impact the event. Car owners are reportedly being told to stock up on car wax and car covers to keep their rides clean, but will the air quality hurt attendance? What will the fires do for the auction prices?

We’ll have to wait until next week to find out.

Of course, it’s possible MCW may end up being quite positive for the firefighting efforts, as the event traditionally brings in a huge amount of charitable donations, and it’s possible a good deal of the funds will be directed towards fighting the Soberanes fires.

What’s more, business and vendors holding the events are reportedly paying the bill for the extra law enforcement presence. The Quail Lodge will also hire a private firm to help smooth traffic flow in and out of Carmel Valley.

Either way, you can be sure this year’s event will look and feel quite different from those in the past. We’ll be on the scene bringing you all the latest, so stay tuned.

Source: NBC – KSBW

Jonathan Lopez
Jonathan Lopez
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