CAL FIRE SLO says the cause of the McMillan Fire in Shandon that scorched more than 1,500 acres was an accident. They say a mower sparked the fire.
County Fire Chief Scott Jalbert says a mower with metal blades can easily start a fire in the weeds.
“In the grassland areas and the wildland areas, there’s lots of rocks out there and what happens is the metal blades strike the rocks,” Chief Jalbert explained.
CAL FIRE SLO says almost all wildfires in San Luis Obispo County are human-caused.
“Our two largest causes for fires – one is equipment use and the other is use or misuse of vehicles,” Chief Jalbert said.
The department says it’s important to keep in mind when you’re allowed to mow and which equipment is best.
No mowing is allowed after 10 a.m. and it’s best to always have a fire extinguisher and shovel nearby.
“We recommend that while you’re out there doing your due diligence and cutting the weeds that you have your cell phone with you. In case a fire does start, you can quickly call 911,” Jalbert said.
If you are found to have caused a fire, whether it’s accidental or not, you could be charged by the state and even have to pay for the damages if the fire burns someone’s house.
CAL FIRE SLO says vehicles are also a major cause of wildfires in our area. They recommend inspecting your catalytic converters, tires and tow chains to ensure you don’t spark a fire on the roadway.
So far this far season, more than 3,000 acres have burned in San Luis Obispo County.
CAL FIRE SLO says starting next Monday, they will be at the peak of their staffing levels, bringing on two additional fire engines and increasing daily staffing levels.
We reached out to Santa Barbara County Fire for statistics on wildfire causes and are still waiting to hear back.