Firefighters Battle Big Sur Blaze Under “Ideal” Conditions: Officials

An unusual late fall wildfire fueled by drought conditions has destroyed 22 structures and forced about 100 people to flee the forested mountains of California's scenic Big Sur region overlooking the Pacific.

Crews battling the blaze in the popular tourist destination have reported making "good progress" in fighting the fire, which burned the home of Big Sur's fire chief.

The slow-moving fire in Los Padres National Forest near state Highway 1 had consumed about 770 acres and was only 20 percent contained as of late Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Lynn Olson said. Additional firefighters were brought in, bringing the total force to nearly 500.

Still, smoke in the area prompted the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District and the Monterey County Health Department to issue a "wildfire smoke advisory" for residents in the surrounding counties.

 At least 15 homes were destroyed Monday, including the home that belonged to Big Sur's fire chief.

"It was too much fire too fast, and we couldn't save the house," Fire Chief Martha Karsten told sister station KSBW in Salinas.

The Red Cross set up an overnight shelter for displaced people, said Los Padres National Forest spokesman Andrew Madsen.

AERIAL VIDEO: Big Sur Wildfire Leads to Evacuations

The fire is concentrated in the Pfeiffer Ridge area of Los Padres National Forest near Highway 1. It had not crossed the key coastal road, which remained open.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

A wildfire so late in the year is unusual, but some say not surprising given that California is in the midst of the driest calendar year on record.

MORE: Big Sur Wildfire Destroys 15 Homes

Big Sur is a popular tourist destination along the Central California coast known for its views of the Pacific.

The last major fire in Big Sur happened in 2008, when a lightning-sparked wildfire burned 250 square miles and several homes.

NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro and wire services contributed to this report.

Image shows the destroyed home of the chief of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade:

Image shows the destroyed home of the chief of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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