Willow Fire Grows as California Eyes Help From Unexpected Source: Last Year's Blaze

California's Willow Fire burst from covering 750 acres Friday to more than 2,000 acres early Saturday morning, as firefighters from across the Big Sur region hope to contain a blaze that forest officials said was thoroughly burned last year.

Hundreds of people have already been evacuated from areas near the Los Padres National Forest near the rugged Big Sur area of Monterey County by late Friday. State and local firefighters are amassing flame retardant, running sprinkler systems and using water drops to help slow the fire, which currently sits at zero containment Saturday morning.

Record high temperatures well above 100 degrees as well as low humidity levels are making the task more daunting, officials said in Friday statements. But the U.S. Forest Service is hopeful the Willow Fire may be contained by an unlikely ally: scorched earth from last year's Dolan fire.

The latest fire began Thursday evening in the Los Padres National Forest, thriving on a combination of hot and dry weather conditions, Forest Service spokesman Andrew Madsen told CBS San Francisco on Saturday morning.

No buildings have been burned as a result of the Willow Fire as of Saturday morning, Madsen added, noting the fire is headed toward an area that burned during last year—a major factor that could deprive the wildfire of fuel. With little remaining brush, the current blaze could fail to spread as quickly as conditions would normally allow.

The Willow Fire may be halted by the fact it is retracing much of the scorched land from last year's Dolan Fire, as well as scars remaining from the Soberanes fire of 2016.

Just 30 minutes ago— Cal Fire Air Attack Base in Hollister, loading up fire retardant for two air tankers that are currently fighting the #WillowFire in Big Sur. Playing a key role in the fight against wildfires. pic.twitter.com/qDJXWdz5Ax

— Ariana Jaso (@ArianaJasoKSBW) June 18, 2021

Madsen and other local fire officials gave a Saturday morning update that the blaze was headed toward the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, a Buddhist monastery located within a very remote valley. The Tassajara Road that leads into the camp has been closed.

At least 300 hundred people were evacuated from the Tassajara Zen Center over to China Camp, sfgate.com reported Saturday morning. An evacuation order has been issued for the Arroyo Seco Campground and more evacuations are expected before the end of this weekend.

Videos posted to social media Saturday showed workers at the Cal Fire Air Attack Base in Hollister, California, moving stockpiles of flame retardant and loading up several air tankers in preparation to fight the Willow Fire this afternoon in Big Sur. Officials with the base told sfgate.com there are currently 337 firefighters, fixed-wing tankers and water-dropping helicopters battling the Willow Fire—a number likely to increase in the coming hours.

Newsweek reached out to several firefighting agencies near Big Sur for additional remarks and updates regarding the ongoing efforts to contain the blaze Saturday.

willow glenn fire california
A photograph taken on December 2, 2020 shows firefighter trucks near a brush fire encroaching on a home along Willow Glenn Road in El Cajon, California. - The fire was put out quickly as firefighters across Southern California are on high alert. California's Willow Fire burst from covering 750 acres Friday to more than 2,000 acres early Saturday morning. SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP/Getty Images