Monterey County

South Monterey County residents ordered to evacuate from Chimney Fire

Chimney Fire crosses into Monterey County

SOUTH MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. - UPDATE 8/22/2016 9 PM:

More than 10,000 firefighters are battling six major wildfires in California, Cal Fire said in a news release.

Several of those fires are in Monterey County. As of Monday morning, the Soberanes Fire had burned 86,294 acres and was 60-percent contained. As of Monday night, the nine-day-old Chimney Fire had consumed more than 33,000 acres of grass and trees in San Luis Obispo County and had moved north into Monterey County.

More than 3,800 firefighters from throughout the state and the West Coast have built a containment line around approximately 35 percent of the Chimney Fire. Crews are also building multiple fire lines in case flames jump the original ones cut.

There are similarities between the fires.

"The (Chimney Fire's) northwest section that the fire is burning into is a place that locals call 'The Narrows.' It's very similar to the topography that exists during the Soberanes incident," said Cal Fire public information officer Larry Kurtz.

Crews called the fire behavior on Monday "extreme" and said once the morning inversion broke, winds increased in the area. Erratic winds in different areas of the Chimney Fire make it challenging for firefighters to stay a step ahead. Back-burning has helped as crews try to stop the fire from moving east.

"The biggest areas of concern is that we don't want the fire to extend anymore to the northwest, out into the Fort Hunter Liggett area of Monterey county," Kurtz said. "More important than that is the lake communities, north and south side of the lake. But we want to make sure we protect those structures and individuals in that area. We don't want this fire to burn east more than it already has."

According to Cal Fire, there are evacuation orders in place for the Christmas Cove, Oak Shores, North Shore Boat and Ski, Laguna Vista, South Shore of Lake San Antonio, Sapaqua Valley and Bryson Hesperia in both San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties. As of Monday night, two structures have been destroyed and nearly 1,900 more are threatened.

One of the evacuees is longtime Bryson Hesperia resident Connie Decile. She hasn't seen her home since Saturday. She and other families are staying in Lockwood in the meantime. However, the official evacuation center is at Flamson Middle School on Spring Street in Paso Robles. 

"Thank the firefighters that are from everywhere, and the Red Cross from Santa Cruz came down here, the SPCA, and especially the people in Lockwood," Decile said.

While she's gone, deputies with the Monterey County Sheriff's Office are patrolling her neighborhood, watching for looters and other criminal activity.

"We did have one vehicle that we stopped and it did have marijuana in it, we are still continuing that investigation," Commander Joe Moses said.

No arrests were made in that incident and the cause of the Chimney Fire has not been determined.  

ORIGINAL POST:

Cal Fire confirms the Chimney Fire crossed into Monterey County late Sunday night. So far residents living in the Bryson Hesperia community in South County remain under evacuation orders.

Evacuation orders are also in effect for these areas in San Luis Obispo County: Christmas Cove, Oak Shores, North Shore Boat and Ski, Laguna Vista, South Shore Lake San Antonio, Sapaqua Valley, and Bryson Hesperia on the SLO side. Evacuation orders affect nearly 2,500 people at this point.

The fire started burning in San Luis Obispo County August 13 and has burned 31,644 acres and is 35% contained.

Fire behavior is described as "extreme" as it moves north and west in steep, rugged terrain. The area is filled with dry and drought stressed timber and vegetation, according to Cal Fire.

KION's Mariana Hicks will have more on this story at 5 & 6.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

More than 3,700 fire personnel are assigned to the Chimney Fire.


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