Fire near Montaña de Oro is 100 percent contained, Cal Fire says

The prescribed burn is being conducted on 430 acres on remote and hilly land north of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

newsroom@thetribunenews.comNovember 12, 2012 

UPDATE: 5:25 a.m. Thursday: The Creek Fire at Montaña de Oro State Park is now 100 percent contained, according to a news release from Cal Fire.

Firefighters will remain in the area patrolling and mopping up.

UPDATE: 4:10 p.m. Wednesday: The Creek Fire at Montaña de Oro State Park is now 75 percent contained, according to a news release from Cal Fire. One firefighter suffered a minor injury.

UPDATE: 5:30 a.m. Wednesday: Fire officials say they now have 60 percent containment of a 100-acre fire near Montana de Oro that occurred after a prescribed burn jumped a containment line.

Firefighters worked through the night to contain the Creek Fire, according to a news release from Cal Fire. Offshore winds were strong, but firefighters were able to prevent the fire from spreading further.

Full containment is expected Thursday.

“It was a cold wind out there last night but the firefighters kept working on the steep slopes to put this fire out,” Cal Fire Chief Robert Lewin was quoted in the news release as saying.

UPDATE 3:25 p.m. Tuesday: Fire crews are still aggressively fighting a 100-acre fire that occurred after a prescribed burn jumped a containment line this morning, costing an approximate $500,000.

The fire outside the original containment area is now 30 percent contained, according to a Cal Fire news release. Rob Lewin, County/Cal Fire chief, said he was optimistic that crews would be able to stop the fire from spreading any further by tonight. The high winds that led to the fire jumping the containment line have now diminished but could come back, Lewin said.

There are 450 fire personnel on scene fighting the fire. Only 150 fire personnel were planned to be onsite for the 430-acre prescribed burn.

The fire is not threatening any structures, campgrounds or protected natural resources.

The prescribed fire is on track and all fire lines are secured, said Lewin.

UPDATE 12:09 p.m. Tuesday: A planned fire that grew out of control near Montana de Oro is 15 percent contained and should be completely subdued by Friday, according to a Cal Fire spokeswoman.

Es Berliner, speaking for Cal Fire, added that there is no damage to structures and no threat to people.

The prescribed burn jumped a containment line early this morning and ignited 100 additional acres. Of that, 15 percent is under control, and the rest on its way to being contained, Berliner said shortly before noon.

She said 325 firefighters from various agencies are fighting the blaze.

Berliner called the incident “freakish.” She said officials plan carefully for all contingencies and they simply did not anticipate the ferocity of the winds. “Mother Nature — you can’t control it,” she said.

UPDATE 10:18 a.m. Tuesday: A prescribed burn in the Coon Creek area of Montaña de Oro State Park jumped a containment line early this morning and has burned 45 acres of additional land.

The escape occurred in the northern Coon Creek area at about 3:50 a.m. due to high winds. The agency has contingency plans for such incidents, and the fire is expected to be brought back into containment later today, said Es Berliner, Cal Fire spokeswoman.

The burn is being conducted on 430 acres over two days on remote and hilly land owned by State Parks land and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. north of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The burn has created a large plume of smoke that is visible from much of San Luis Obispo County.

“Prescribed burns are very valuable for land management,” Berliner said. “If there is a wildfire, prescribed burns create a line of containment to stop the fire from coming into town.”

UPDATE 3:31 p.m. Cal Fire officials have called out additional units to help with a prescribed burn this afternoon in and around Montaña de Oro state park.

There are currently 13 engines on scene, plus a water tender, two bulldozers, three hand crews and a fixed-wing aircraft, said Cal Fire Communications Operator Patricia Grisham.

The burn was about 50 percent complete and within containment lines about 2:45 p.m., according to a tweet the agency posted on its Twitter account.

The additional units were called out to help when the wind picked up this afternoon.

Grisham said she expects the burn to continue into Tuesday. She said Cal Fire has received calls from numerous local residents about the smoke.

UPDATE 10:42 a.m. Cal Fire has started a 430-acre prescribed burn in Montaña de Oro. The burn will take place in the state park as well as on PG&E property.

The agency posted two photos about 10:30 a.m. of the burn on its Twitter page at https://twitter.com/CALFIRE_SLO.

Original story: Cal Fire will conduct a 430-acre prescribed burn today or Tuesday in conjunction with PG&E and the state parks and recreation department.

The burn is located on PG&E property and in Montaña de Oro state park in the Coon Creek area, according to a Cal Fire news release. The final burn date will be dependent in part on the weather.

Some private and public trails near the burn will be closed as well as Pecho Valley Road south of Spooners Cove.

Six fire engines, one bulldozer, three fire crews and one helicopter will be assigned to the burn.

The burn is being conducted as part of Cal Fire’s vegetation management program and is intended to reduce hazardous vegetation and wildland fuels as well as provide defensible space to PG&E infrastructure in an area considered to be at high risk for large and damaging wildfires, according to the agency.

Residents in the Morro Bay and Five Cities area and those traveling near the coast may see smoke from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the day of the burn.

County officials urge people to take precautions and use common sense to reduce harmful health effects by limiting outdoor activities.

The prescribed burn is being coordinated with the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District and the California Air Resources Board in order to minimize the smoke impacts on surrounding communities.

The project is dependent on weather and will be carried out during favorable conditions that provide adequate consumption and smoke dispersal. If the conditions are not favorable, the burn will be rescheduled.

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