Fire along Highway 101 burns 54 acres, forces evacuations in Atascadero

A vehicle crash on Highway 101 just south of Atascadero on Friday afternoon sparked a grass fire that burned about 54 acres — prompting evacuations and causing hours-long traffic backups.

A Ford F-150 pickup crashed into a hillside near Santa Barbara Road about 12:27 p.m., igniting the blaze, according to the CHP Traffic Incident Information page.

Caltrans closed lanes on the northbound and southbound sides of the highway as firefighters worked to contain the flames, which threatened homes in south Atascadero, according to the city.

A helicopter dumps water on a vegetation fire that burned 54 acres near Highway 101 just south of Atascadero. Laura Dickinson ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office evacuated some residents and issued reverse 911 calls advising others to remain vigilant as the fire spread.

By about 2 p.m., Cal Fire crews managed to slow the spread of the fire, according to a tweet from the agency.

Caltrans re-opened northbound Highway 101 at 3:15 p.m., although one soutbound lane remained closed at Santa Barbara Road, according to a SigAlert the agency sent out.

Evacuated residents were also allowed to return home at that time, according to a Sheriff’s Office tweet.

Cal Fire crews will remain on-scene overnight to continue monitoring the fire, according to a tweet.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, North County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is a native Californian raised in the Midwest and earned degrees from DePaul and Northwestern universities.
Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.