SOLEDAD, Calif. — A vintner stood ready Friday to use his wine to keep flames from a 6,000-acre brush fire from spreading to his small winery, while an 850-acre wilderness blaze burning near Big Sur threatened homes.
Winds of 40 m.p.h. were forecast, and firefighters feared the uncontrolled fires would spread to more tinder-dry brush and chaparral.
About 125 firefighters battled the larger blaze near Paraiso Spring, a hot springs resort area with cabins, and the small Smith & Hook Winery about 10 miles west of Soledad.
"If we have to, we'll fight the fire with wine," said a worried Chris Todd as flames crept to within about 1,600 yards of his winery. "There's lots of smoke and the whole winery smells. . . . The wine's safe in stainless steel tanks--I hope. It could come this way."
The small winery with 250 acres of vineyards produces about 10,000 cases of table wine a year.
Rancher Morris C. Casinelli was cited Friday "as the individual we believe to be responsible for this fire for burning without a permit," said Fire Capt. Steve Wood of the California Department of Forestry.