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Officials say California wildfire caused by burn pile; blaze 50% contained

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A wildfire that's so far torched more than 700 acres and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate along California's central coast was caused by hot embers that were left over from a burn pile, officials said.

Authorities at Cal Fire specified the cause of the blaze late Tuesday and said the fire is about 50% contained.

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The blaze, called the Colorado Fire, began late last week and is now burning between Carmel and Big Sur -- about 100 miles southeast of San Francisco -- and forced a partial closure of Highway 1.

So far, the flames have caused little structural damage.

"Fire investigators have determined the cause of the Colorado Fire ... to be hot embers from a pile burning operation," Cal Fire said in a statement. "High winds blew the embers onto nearby vegetation, which ignited the fire."

Cal Fire said winds were expected to be light on Wednesday, which should help fire crews control lines and mop up hot spots.

The iconic Highway 1, also called the Pacific Coast Highway, is closed from Garrapata Creek to Point Sur. Officials said that one structure has been destroyed so far.

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About 500 residents evacuated last Friday and the evacuation order was still in effect early Wednesday.

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