Rob Rossi, an owner of the 15,000-acre Santa Margarita Ranch that surrounds the town, has been visiting the property a few times a day to see how the land has withstood the Cuesta Fire.
So far, Rossi said he’s visited a few thousand acres of burned brush and was happy to see surviving trees, though one home on the ranch property might currently be at risk.
He’s not sure how many total acres have burned or what the long-term impacts could be on the property, including the vineyards located southeast of the community.
“We don’t know exactly what it’s affected and every day it’s been calm in the morning and then rears back up at night,” Rossi said. “As of last night (Wednesday) no vineyards had burned, but the smoke could have an impact.”
The Margarita Adventures ziplines on the property have been temporarily closed but Rossi did not know if they’d been burned.
He said the cattle on the ranch were moved far away from the fire to the north side of the ranch.
Rossi said the fire has likely prompted some wildlife, including bears and mountain lions, to leave the high country and come closer to the town in search of food.
“We have a lot of bears and lions are down on the flat plains closer to town,” he said. “Lots have been spotted and there are enormous amounts of tracks.”
He also praised firefighting efforts.
“I was mostly concerned about the town catching on fire and then spring-boarding with hot ash elsewhere,” Rossi said. “The rest is important to us but not as nearly important as the town.”