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CAL FIRE: Lopez Lake fire burns 250 acres, all homes saved

One minor firefighter injury
Posted: 3:06 PM, Sep 21, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-22 00:39:26-04
Campers can see Lopez Fire from their campgrounds.

(UPDATE: 8:22 p.m.): CAL FIRE SLO says the Lopez Fire has now burned 250 acres.

Fire Chief Scott Jalbert says 24 homes were evacuated after the fire broke out Saturday afternoon. However, no homes were lost as CAL FIRE and responding agencies worked to protect the structures from the flames racing through the dry grassland and rugged terrain in the area.

There is no containment at this time. The official cause of the fire is under investigation.

Lopez Lake fire. View from above Saturday evening from CAL FIRE
Lopez Lake fire. View from above from CAL FIRE

(UPDATE: 7:24 p.m.): One firefighter sustained a minor injury while working on the Lopez Fire, according to CAL FIRE SLO.

Public Information Officer Kirk Sturm says that firefighter was treated and released with a minor injury.

The majority of the active fire Saturday evening is in Federal Forestry land having moved mainly away from homes and campgrounds in the area.

CAL FIRE SLO Chief Scott Jalbert says there are several challenges to fighting the Lopez Fire including the steep and inaccessible terrain in some areas.

Chief Jalbert says the fuels around the Lopez Fire are really dry and the offshore winds were driving the flames uphill.

Lopez Lake fire. Photo courtesy Kandie Sampson
Lake Lopez Fire. Photo courtesy Kandie Sampson

Jalbert says there are very few recent burn scars, as the area hasn't burned in about 60 years. Nearly 200 acres were burned by early Saturday evening.

Jalbert says fire retardant is around two-thirds of the fire but there is concern for the wind gusts growing and shifting Saturday night to the east/northeast as well as accessing the difficult terrain in the dark.

The fire is burning northeast of Lopez Lake.

Jalbert says he is hopeful the winds will be in their favor Sunday as temperatures start to cool down.

Around 300 firefighters have been assigned to the fire and the San Luis Obispo County Incident Management Team has been activated, according to Jalbert.

Crews will remain on scene overnight.

Lopez Lake fire. Photo courtesy Stephanie Odom
Lopez Lake fire. Photo courtesy Stephanie Odom

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(UPDATE 5:10 p.m.) - Members of the Elk's Unocal Event Center say they are opening the facility for large animal evacuations. They say they are ready and prepared to take hundreds of animals including cows and horses.

If you have large animals, they say go to Gate 3. There is no need to call ahead of time.

Horse Emergency Evacuation Team (HEAT) is at the event center ready to help.
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(UPDATE 4:45 p.m.) - CAL FIRE SLO Chief Scott Jalbert says the Lopez Fire is burning just under 200 acres in a southeast direction.

Fire officials say 24 structures are threatened and have been evacuated.

Camp French was evacuated and authorities say the fire is burning just east of the campground.

Additional resources are being called out including the U.S. Forest Service according to officials.

Crews say they are looking for people who are possibly still hiking on nearby trails.

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(UPDATE 4:13 p.m.) - CAL FIRE SLO says the fire is burning 100+ acres with a potential to burn up to 500 acres.

Crews say there are multiple aircrafts assisting with the fire, but it is unknown how many or what type.

SLO County Sheriff's Office say they sent out a reverse 911 warning to neighbors within a 2 mile radius on Upper Lopez Canyon Rd. and Camp French.

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(UPDATE 3:35 p.m.) - Evacuations have been ordered for the upper Lopez Canyon.

Officers say they are going door to door in the area notifying neighbors.

SLO County Office of Emergency Services say a few structures are threatened.

Lopez Lake fire. Photo courtesy Yerixa Montero
Lopez Lake area fire. Photo courtesy Yerixa Montero

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(ORIGINAL 3:00 p.m.) - Firefighters are responding to reports of a vegetation fire near Lopez Lake.

CAL FIRE SLO says the fire is burning at 50 acres in a rural grassy area northeast of the lake.

A large plume of black smoke can be seen from our station in San Luis Obispo.

CAL FIRE SLO tweeted around 2:45 p.m.

Lopez Lake fire. Photo courtesy Kandie Sampson
Lake Lopez Fire. Photo courtesy Kandie Sampson

We have a reporter on the way to the scene. This is a developing story, check back for details.