A Small army of firefighters on the ground and in the air are battling the Chimney Fire that continues to grow in northern San Luis Obispo County.
More than 1,100 firefighting personnel including 21 air tankers and helicopters are battling the Chimney Fire which started Saturday afternoon and has now grown to 5,400 acres with about 10% containment as of Monday night.
The Chimney Fire has destroyed at least 12 structures, including several homes, damaged at least 20 other buildings and continues to threatened dozens of homes near Lake Nacimiento.
“There’s teams going through doing damage assessment to identify the homes that were damaged and destroyed”, says Calfire spokesperson Bennet Milloy, “that way we are able to give notification to the homeowners.”
The Chimney fire is spreading due to near triple digit heat, low humidity, gusty winds and extremely dry conditions.
“We have five years of persistent drought that has cured these oak trees”, Milloy says about the conditions, “we have a lot of dead and dying oak.”
“Its pretty big, its growing pretty fast”, says Nena Brown who was among the first to be ordered to evacuate the area of the fire that started near Chimney Rock and Running Deer Roads southwest of Lake Nacimiento, “I hope everybody gets out, but I know that some people were still out there.”
Meantime, parts of the Paso Robles Event Center and Mid-State fairgrounds have been transformed into a Chimney Fire Incident Command Post with a small army of firefighters coming in from all over California at a time when firefighting resources are stretched thin across the state by a very busy wildfire season.
Dozens of people from the community have volunteered to help feed and care for the weary firefighters coming down from the fire lines.
“I would expect so, pretty much like the Big Sur fire”, evacuee Blake Brown says, “everybody pulling together, trying to get the job done.”
The cause of the Chimney Fire remains under investigation.