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Controlled burns to take place in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties

Posted at 6:22 PM, Oct 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-11 11:20:24-04

A series of prescribed burns are taking place across the Central Coast beginning Monday.

The prescribed burns are taking place in both San Luis Obispo County as well as in Santa Barbara County in order to prevent future fires in the region.

"This has been in the works for more than five years," said San Luis Obispo Coast District State Parks Senior Environmental Scientist Katie Drexhage.

The burn in Santa Barbara County is near Los Olivos and is expected to burn 1,600 acres.

"It's going to be occurring all week as long as conditions are favorable for minimal smoke impacts," said Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District Public Information Officer Lyz Bantilan.

The burn will be taking place between Midland School and Tim’s Road in order to reduce the risk of wildfire to residential communities.

"It's a really important tool in the toolbox for preventing wildfires, and there's been a lot of increased focus at the state level and that's worked its way down to the local level," said Bantilan.

In San Luis Obispo County, state parks will be impacted.

"State parks and multiple agencies utilize controlled burns or prescribed fire to thin out hazardous fuels in areas," said Morro Bay Fire Department Fire Chief Daniel McCrain.

"Right now, we're entering our rainy season," said Drexhage. "It's less of a hazard to conduct these types of activities during the cooler part of the year."

The burns will occur in Hearst San Simeon, Harmony Headlands, Estero Bluffs, Morro Bay, and Montana de Oro state parks.

"It improves the forest health by removing some of the dead and disease of trees," said McCrain.

"We can reduce fuel loads in our forces habitats, or we can improve vegetation in our grasslands," said Drexhage.

The goal of the operation is to ultimately reduce hazardous fuel loads in a safe manner.

"This is a way we can restore native habitat and we can reduce catastrophic fuel loads as well, so it's a two for one," said Drexhage.

"They set the burning days for days where should be optimal burning conditions to disperse the smoke appropriately and limit the impact on the surrounding communities," said McCrain.

"If people see or smell smoke, they should stay indoors, avoid outdoor activity and they can sign up for future notifications from APCD about future burns if they want to stay in the know," said Bantilan.

The prescribed burns in Santa Barbara County will take place from the Oct. 10 through Oct. 14. The prescribed burns at the state parks will take place starting this month until March of 2023.

The San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control districts were involved with the coordination of these burns to minimize the smoke impacts on the surrounding communities.

People are asked to use extreme caution while driving near prescribed fire operations due to fire personnel and equipment in the area.