The Chimney Fire burning in northern San Luis Obispo County near Lake Nacimiento has grown by thousands of acres in the past 24 hours.
The fire ballooned to more than 11,000 acres with containment less than 35% as of Thursday night.
The fire flared up again on several fronts Thursday, showing its stubborn side that’s been burning since last Saturday afternoon.
Strong, gusty winds coupled with near triple-digit heat and low humidity created ideal conditions for the wildfire to spread in extremely dry and thick vegetation.
“Luckily those winds are pushing the fire back into the black area, what we call black, the area that is already burned literally to the ground and is black”, says Kenichi Haskett with Calfire, “that’s good in the sense that the fire is not spreading further north at this time or further south.”
Air tankers dropping fire retardant and helicopters dropping water are playing a key role in knocking down the flames so firefighters on the ground can continue working on building a containment line around the fire.
“We have one element in the air and one from the ground, we’re going to try and put them together and hopefully we’ll put this entire fire front out”, said one Orange County firefighter on the firelines.
The winds sent huge plumes of smoke high into the air above the burn area on Thursday reminding hundreds of other property owners threatened by the Chimney Fire that its far from over.
“We need people to understand they need to to be set to go if we issue an evacuation order”, Haskett says, “we want to get resources in in a timely fashion, so we need people to come out, this area is so narrow and windy, its one way in and one way out in a lot of areas.”
More than 40 homes and buildings have been destroyed by the Chimney Fire that started last Saturday afternoon in the area of Chimney Rock and Running Deer Roads southwest of Lake Nacimiento.
The cause of the Chimney Fire remains under investigation.