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Trees are hazards as crews mop up Hill Fire - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Trees are hazards as crews mop up Hill Fire

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As residents adjust to life after the Hill Fire either swept through their homes or just past it, Cal Fire officials want them to be aware of the dangers of smoldering trees.

The main focus of firefighters is working on containing the fire. However, some trees that caused a serious hazard were cut down. 

Christine Mitchell lives on Huer Huero Road in Creston. She's lived at her property for years. She did not evacuate during the fire and had a front row seat to it on Monday.

"It finally came over the ridge and I knew I had to get my horse, move her, and we had moved the cars down below the road," said Mitchell.

Thanks to her defensible space, the fire didn't touch her home, but it did get to the land and trees surrounding her home.

"One tree on our property that's near the power lines was totally involved and they took it down last night," Mitchell said. 

"As oak trees grow, the diameter of the stump, they tend to become hollow on the inside," Cal Fire's Chris Elms said. "So as fire comes through, you can get deep charring, which can weaken the tree."

"As for the pines, they can become 'snags' or 'widowmakers,' which as the name suggests, can be deadly," Elms said. 

"As residents are coming home, if they're seeing trees that are questionable, if they've got smoldering stumps, dead branches around their trees, tree branches that weren't leaning before, we advise them to stay away and have that tree assessed by a professional," Elms said.

Four homes burned in the fire, Cal Fire confirmed Thursday.

"If a home is defendable, we will do everything we can to save that home. If a home is on fire, then we, unfortunately, are going to write it off and go to a home that needs defending," Elms said.

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