WeatherFire Watch


Firefighters conducting prescribed burns to reduce wildfire fuel

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Posted at 3:51 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 22:24:19-05

People throughout San Luis Obispo County may have noticed smoky and hazy skies on Wednesday.

That's because firefighters are burning hazardous vegetation on the east side of Highway 229 between Highway 58 and Creston.

"This location burned in 1989 during the Chispa Fire and so we have 32 years of growth," said Capt. Adan Orozco, CAL FIRE SLO Public Information Officer.

The Chispa Fire was the 7th largest wildfire in San Luis Obispo County history.

A couple of years ago, CAL FIRE started prescribed burning on the private ranch land to prevent history from repeating itself.

"This is one of those areas that dries out quicker but it's enough precipitation to help those fuels grow and to a large size," Capt. Orozco explained.

This burn marks the final 338 acres of this particular vegetation management project.

"As we're starting to transition out of peak fire season, we're taking opportunities when the weather is in our favor, sometimes before it starts raining, to do these as often as we can," said Capt. Damien Juarez of CAL FIRE SLO's Paso Robles Station.

First, they brought in bulldozers to compact the brush.

Then, the firefighters ignited the fuel using hand and pistol-style flares, drip torches and a torch connected to the back of a truck.

Coyote brush, chamise, and annual grasses, among other types of vegetation, are being burned.

The goal is to reduce the intensity of any future fires on the land.

"It's very critical," said Capt. Juarez. "It gives us a chance to come treat areas where we think there's a high fire danger and where it gives us a good probability of holding a fire if one starts."

The prescribed burn is set to wrap up at around 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

CAL FIRE SLO has burned about 600 acres this year in prescribed fires.