Fire that scorched nearly 2,000 acres near Shandon is 95% contained

A fire that burned through nearly 2,000 acres of land near Shandon on Wednesday was 95% contained by Thursday evening.

Firefighters worked throughout the day on the McMillan Fire, constructing nearly 10 miles of fireline, increasing containment from 75% reported earlier in the day. Acreage of total land burned was decreased from 2,000 to 1,764 with more accurate mapping, Cal Fire SLO said.

“They’re hitting it real hard on the ground this morning,” Cal Fire public information officer Clint Bullard said Thursday. “We do expect containment figures to increase throughout the day and are hoping for full containment if not late today, early tomorrow.”

Temperatures on Thursday weren’t quite as high and the winds were cooperating, Bullard said.

“This are looking good out there,” he said.

Bullard said some of the challenges firefighters faced on Wednesday included wind and topography. The area where the fire broke out, off Highway 46 East of McMillan Canyon Road, is “deep, hilly terrain,” Bullard said.

There aren’t many roads out that way, and there are some canyons in the area that weren’t accessible to firefighters, Bullard said.

However, firefighters were able to get up on ridgetops and get around the fire to establish containment lines.

Local landowners also helped, by opening gates on their properties so fire engines could get to the blaze, Bullard said.

Aircraft were used to help fight the fire on Wednesday, but there was no need for a plane as of Thursday morning, Bullard said.

The fire broke out a little before 1 p.m. Wednesday and quickly grew, eventually forcing officials to shut down Highway 46 for several hours.

“The fire was burning up against the highway at one point and it was very dangerous for both the motoring public and the firefighters,” Bullard said. “We appreciate the assistance of the CHP and Caltrans in helping to shut down 46 East for that period of time. It really assisted the fighting of the fire significantly.”

The weather also helped firefighters as they battled the fire. The winds died down sometime in the evening and temperatures began to drop during the night, Bullard said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. It’s the latest blaze of several in the past week.

On Monday afternoon, six vegetation fires broke out south of Shandon and burned a total of 120 acres before they were contained.

Recently, firefighters battled a rash of fires that broke out from Santa Margarita to Lake Nacimiento.

On June 5, a fire in California Valley burned 1,127 acres.

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Gabby Ferreira is a breaking news and general assignment reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. A native of Houston, Texas, she was a reporter in Tucson, Arizona; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Palm Springs, California, before moving to San Luis Obispo County in 2016.