Fire near SLO CHP building likely caused by campfire, officials say

jhickey@thetribunenews.comSeptember 17, 2013 

UPDATE 5 p.m.: A half-acre brush fire believed to be caused by an abandoned campfire threatened the California Highway Patrol building in San Luis Obispo late Tuesday morning.

Officers at the CHP Coastal Division building at 675 California Blvd., which is just south of Highway 101, spotted a fire around 11:40 a.m. in an area of vegetation between the building’s westernmost parking lot and the train tracks that run parallel to California Boulevard.

Two CHP officers tried to extinguish the fire — Officer Gary Dana with a shovel and dirt, and Officer Michael Poelking with a fire extinguisher — but the fire spread until San Luis Obispo Fire Department and Cal Fire crews arrived.

Gusting winds of 10 to 15 mph played a role in the rapid fire spread, Battalion Chief Jeff Gator wrote in a news release.

“The smoke was heavy and crossing California Boulevard,” CHP Officer Laura Browning said.

Responders attacked the fire with multiple hose lines and gained control within 14 minutes of the initial 911 call.

“We stopped the fire just short of the (CHP) building,” Gater said.

Evidence of a smoldering campfire, believed to be part of a homeless encampment, was discovered in the area.

Fire Marshal Roger Maggio suspects the fire rekindled and ignited the dry vegetation, according to the news release.

The CHP building, with about 12 officers and members of the public, was evacuated during the incident.

Original story: A small brush fire just south of Highway 101 at the California Boulevard exit has been contained, according to a Tweet from the .

The fire was between railroad tracks near the California Highway Patrol Coastal Division building at 675 California Blvd., a Cal Fire dispatcher confirmed. The San Luis Obispo Fire Department could not be immediately reached for comment.

The fire was reported at 11:51 a.m. to Cal Fire dispatchers.

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