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'Surreal' January wildfire shuts California highway

Image source, The Mercury News via Getty Images

An unseasonal wildfire is raging in California’s Monterey County, forcing evacuations and the closure of Highway 1, US officials say.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reported a “surreal fire behaviour given the wet Oct and Dec”.

The blaze along the Big Sur Pacific coast, dubbed the Colorado Fire, has scorched about 1,500 acres (607 ha).

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Strong winds pushed the fire toward the sea, and flames were seen burning near the famous Bixby Creek Bridge.

Senior forestry and fire protection official Mike Meddles said firefighters from 13 agencies from around California’s central coast had been deployed to tackle the blaze, according to KTLA digital channel.

The area where the blaze is burning had “little or no fire history,” the NWS’s Bay Area branch said in a Twitter post. .

“Anecdotally it seems as though the long term drought is acting like a chronic illness where even recent rains and cold winter weather isn’t helping to keep fires from developing,” the statement said.

Climate change increases the risk of the hot, dry weather that is likely to fuel wildfires.

The world has already warmed by about 1.2C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.

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