Lopez Lake fire reaches 50 percent containment

Update, 7 p.m.:

Cal Fire says the fire is 50 percent contained as of 6:30 p.m. Monday. The size remains unchanged at 220 acres.

Update, 11:20 a.m. Monday

Evacuation orders have lifted. Click here for the latest information on the Lopez Fire.

Update, 7 a.m. Monday

The Lopez Fire remains 20 percent contained as of Monday morning, Cal Fire said in a Monday morning news release. The agency said Sunday night that fire activity was minimal on Sunday, and they plan to lift evacuation orders by 11 a.m. Monday.

“Throughout the night, firefighters did not experience a lot of change in fire size,” the agency said in the news release, adding that it’s been difficult to get to the fire with equipment due to the steep terrain.

Original story:

The Lopez Fire burned 220 acres and is 10 percent contained as of Sunday afternoon, according to Los Padres National Forest spokesman Manny Madrigal.

The fire was originally reported as burning about 250 acres, but that number went down after firefighters were able to get more accurate mapping of the area, Madrigal said.

As of Sunday afternoon, no structures are threatened, and no structures have been destroyed or damaged, Madrigal said. He added that 660 firefighting personnel are working on the blaze.

Evacuations are still in place for those in the area of Upper Lopez Canyon Road and Wittenberg Creek Road, but Cal Fire said they expect to lift the evacuation order by 11 a.m. Monday, as long as conditions permit.

The fire broke out around mid-afternoon on Saturday near the area of Upper Lopez Canyon Road and Wittenberg Creek Road, threatening 24 structures and prompting evacuations. Two firefighters received minor injuries on Saturday, Madrigal said.

The fire is burning in a north and northeasterly direction and moving toward the Santa Lucia Wilderness area, which has steep terrain, according to Los Padres National Forest spokesman Andrew Madsen.

“It’s a terrain-driven fire because the fire wants to run up those hills,” Madsen said. “There’s a lot of grass, shrubs and oak. The challenge is to try to hold that front.”

Madrigal said crews made good progress on the north end of the fire on Saturday night, and continued to construct hand lines on Sunday in places they could get to safely.

By Sunday afternoon, Madrigal said things were looking quiet. Most of the burning happened Saturday, and the fire is currently “sitting in the footprint” that it made.

“Last night there was very little activity on the fire,” Madrigal said, noting that winds are forecast to pick up on Sunday afternoon. “It laid down pretty good last night, but it’s starting to pick up a little bit.”

The area hasn’t burned since at least the mid-1980s, Los Padres National Forest spokesman Andrew Madsen said.

“If we can get through this day, we’ll see where the fire hits,” Madrigal said. “It hasn’t been really active yet, it’s lined pretty good with retardant and we’re also using helicopters to support the crews on the ground.”

“They’re starting to get a handle on it,” he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, according to Cal Fire.

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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.