BIG SUR, Calif. -- A wildfire burning Tuesday in the Big Sur area of California destroyed at least 15 homes and forced about 100 people to evacuate as it chewed through dry vegetation on its way toward the ocean. No injuries were reported.

The fire burned about 222 hectares in the Los Padres National Forest near state Highway 1, with zero per cent containment, Los Padres National Forest spokesman Andrew Madsen said.

Forest service spokeswoman Lynn Olson said it was five per cent contained. Additional firefighters were brought in overnight, bringing the total force to about 400.

The Red Cross has set up an overnight shelter for people who have been displaced by the fire, Madsen said.

Big Sur is a popular tourist destination along the Central California coast with high-end resorts and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

Highway 1 is open but traffic is heavier due to the presence of emergency vehicles, Madsen said. Evacuations of the area remained in effect as of 10:30 p.m. Monday.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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

A lightning-sparked wildfire in 2008 forced the evacuation of Big Sur and blackened 650 sq. kilometres before it was contained. That blaze burned more than a dozen homes.