WeatherFire Watch


Central Coast fire agencies are up-staffing due to elevated fire danger over next week

Posted at 6:17 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 22:09:44-04

Hot and dry conditions are keeping firefighters on high alert.

With the expected heatwave, Central Coast fire agencies like CAL FIRE SLO and Santa Barbara County Fire are up-staffing due to elevated fire danger.

The Dune Fire, which burned 11 acres Thursday night at the Oceano Dunes, is serving as a reminder for community members to be prepared.

Full containment is expected Friday evening, but firefighters say that is no reason to let your guard down.

“We've seen in the last few weeks some of the larger fires in San Luis Obispo and most of those fires were driven by fuel conditions so as temperatures elevate, we can roughly expect the same fire behavior, so therefore we kind of know what we are getting ourselves into,” said CAL FIRE SLO Chief Scott Jalbert.

Inmate hand crews are down 50% statewide due to the pandemic so for the first time, CAL FIRE SLO is employing nearly 20 firefighter ranks to fill those spots to battle blazes on the ground.

With local strike teams battling severe wildfires like the Lake, Ranch, and Apple fires in Southern California, assigning resources is key.

“What that means is we are not going to be able to send out any more people because we already have a significant amount of resources out of the county,” said Captain Daniel Bertucelli, Santa Barbara County Fire Department. “What that also means it is when you have multiple fires going on in any given region, that could possibly limit the number of resources coming to your fire in the event that you need that."

However, resources can be moved if a fire becomes a higher priority.

“If you have a fire that is burning out in the wilderness and then another fire starts that is burning in a populated area, that is a threat to life safety or people's homes. They will redirect resources,” Capt. Bertucelli said.

Central Coast firefighters say they are confident in their response and ready for whatever comes next.

“In the back of your mind, you are always having to prepare for the next fire,” Chief Jalbert said.

CAL FIRE SLO officials say most of the fires locally are human-caused with the two biggest causes being equipment use such as mowing and vehicles.

To avoid accidentally starting a wildfire, fire officials encourage people to mow lawns before 10 a.m. and get their cars fixed if they are not working properly.

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