Boy playing with lighter causes two fires in San Luis Obispo

newsroom@thetribunenews.comMay 24, 2013 

A boy playing with a barbecue lighter caused two small fires Friday afternoon in southeast San Luis Obispo, authorities said.

Crews from the San Luis Obispo City Fire Department and Cal Fire responded to a report of a grass fire around 1:07 p.m. in the 4500 block of Spanish Oaks Drive. Gusty winds were accelerating the fire's spread through an open space area, threatening five homes, according to a news release from the San Luis Obispo City Fire Department.

Firefighters quickly put out the fire, limiting the damage to a small greenhouse, irrigation piping, fencing and ornamental landscaping, according to the news release. But winds carried embers across the street, igniting a second fire on a hillside next to the Islay Hill Open Space area. Crews were able to extinguish that fire before it spread into the heavily vegetated open space area.

Both fires were controlled within 20 minutes of the initial 911 call, according to the news release, and burned about one acre total. Damage from the fires was estimated at more than $1,000.

Cal Fire investigator Zach Nichols determined the first fire was accidentally started by a 12-year-old boy playing with a barbecue lighter in dry vegetation, according to the news release.

Responding to the fire were a battalion chief, a ladder truck, three fire engines and a patrol unit from SLO City Fire; a battalion chief, five fire engines, two hand crews, a bulldozer and an air tanker from Cal Fire; and several Police Department units and a fire investigator.

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