NewsLocal News


Large-scale prescribed burn aims to protect Pismo Beach, Edna Valley

Posted at 10:46 PM, Nov 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-30 01:50:33-05

A large prescribed burn is being planned in the hills just east of the City of Pismo Beach.

Cal Fire wants to burn off more than 100 acres of fuel along Thousand Hills Road just east of the Pismo Preserve.

“Fire is part of the ecosystem here in California, so it needs to be reintroduced back in,” said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Paul Lee.

The agency is taking advantage of recent wet weather to burn off brush, dry grass, and other fuels that can quickly go up in flames during drier months.

“We saw in the Avila Fire how you get a good prevailing wind on a June afternoon--the fire moved very quickly,” explained Lee.

Fire officials want to prevent scenes like these from repeating themselves.

The fast-moving Avila Fire jumped Highway 101 and threatened hundreds of homes in Shell Beach in June 2020.

“We saw it from our house so we know that it can be really close, but it’s also amazing on the Avila Fire, how the fire went around the houses that had a fire break around them,” said Pismo Beach Resident Rick Miller.

A 100+ acre-controlled burn is planned just to the southeast of the Avila Fire burn scar.

Cal Fire says the project will create an extended fuel break that will help protect the City of Pismo Beach and areas east extending into the Edna Valley.

“We’ll give ample notifications to the community itself wanting to make sure that they’re not surprised,” said Chief Lee.

There is no set date for the prescribed burn yet, but fire officials say they’ll give three days’ notice before burning begins sometime in December.

Cal Fire needs to wait five days after the next rain event to allow things to dry out while choosing a day when the wind will quickly dissipate smoke.

“I feel comfortable with the pre-planning that’s going on,” said Miller, who was part of a group of Pismo Beach residents who came out for an informational meeting Tuesday night.

Cal Fire has already cut a containment line around the fire and an engine is already on site laying down hose lines.

“I’m already learning about the eight-foot-wide gap that’s being manually cut around the perimeter of where the fire is going to be. I appreciate hearing that, I was not aware of that,” said Miller.

The prescribed burn will be a one-day event with burning beginning by 9 a.m. and wrapping up by late afternoon.

There will be 60 to 70 firefighters and crew members on-hand during the burn-- with four to five engines and a bulldozer.

Crews will closely watch the area for a few days to make sure the fire doesn’t reignite and jump containment lines.

Cal Fire says that prescribed burns cut down on fire danger for four to seven years.

Aside from the Avila Fire, officials say there have been no large fires in the area in recent memory.