The Cambrian

Firefighters to burn brush near Highway 1 on the North Coast

Prescribed burns similar to this one in 2011 in Atascadero is planned for the North Coast area of San Luis Obispo County.
Prescribed burns similar to this one in 2011 in Atascadero is planned for the North Coast area of San Luis Obispo County.

A couple of state agencies are planning prescribed fire operations at several North Coast locations and some other State Park areas around San Luis Obispo County.

Actual burning will depend on weather conditions and available resources, according to details released to the media by State Parks and Cal Fire. When the planned fires are underway, smoke will be visible.

Cal Fire planned to start its own operation Tuesday, Oct. 2, periodically burning approximately 450 piles of cut vegetation that’s been stacked along Cambria Pines Road and Highway 1. The agency, in conjunction with the county Fire Safe Council, has been mechanically cutting overgrown vegetation there as part of a project to reduce hazardous fire fuel.

During all burn operations, Cal Fire will have two engines onsite.

“We plan to conduct these burns with as little smoke impact to the surrounding homes and communities as possible,” Alan Peters, Cal Fire division chief, said, noting that it will take “multiple days of low-intensity burning” over the next couple of months to achieve that.

Meanwhile, State Parks tentatively plans to conduct burns in several coastal areas of the county through May 31, 2019. Burning may happen in Hearst San Simeon, Harmony Headlands, Estero Bluffs, Morro Bay and Montana de Oro state parks.

Parks officials estimate that people living or working in, or traveling through, Cambria, San Simeon, Harmony, Morro Bay and Los Osos may see smoke from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. any day the burning happens.

The State Park burning will include grassland and coastal scrub, as well as broadcast and pile burns to address diseased, dead and downed Monterey pines and other fire fuels.

State Parks’ media release said of the prescribed program for vegetation management and fire-risk reduction that Monterey pine forests in San Simeon and Morro Bay “are experiencing major die-offs due to pitch canker disease, compounded by years of drought.” The burns are designed to “enhance the health of the forests by removing diseased materials, restoring essential nutrients to the soil and reducing the chance of a catastrophic wildfire.”

On the day of a burn, some nearby public trails may be closed.

Officials recommend that, if you smell smoke, take precautions, use common sense and reduce harmful health effects by limiting outdoor activities, especially for children, the elderly and people with respiratory and heart conditions.

Be especially alert and extremely cautious when driving near the prescribed fire operations, because fire personnel and equipment will be in the area, and smoke could reduce visibility.