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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Crews prevent open space fire from reaching SLO homes

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2020 at 4:50 PM

A San Luis Obispo vegetation fire that threatened dozens of homes on Sept. 6 was halted at 90 acres that evening without damaging any property, officials said.

Fire crews responded shortly after 4 p.m. to a possible apartment fire on the 200 block of Bridge Street near the South Hills Open Space amid a record-breaking day of heat in SLO County.

click to enlarge CITY FIRE A vegetation fire in the South Hills Open Space threatened a few dozen homes on Sept. 6. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SLO FIRE DEPARTMENT
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SLO FIRE DEPARTMENT
  • CITY FIRE A vegetation fire in the South Hills Open Space threatened a few dozen homes on Sept. 6.
Upon arrival, they discovered a grass fire with embers that had started spot fires, which quickly spread into the open space, according to a city press release.

Officials issued reverse 911 evacuation orders to multiple adjacent neighborhoods, as SLO and Cal Fire firefighters attacked the blaze from the air and ground, carving out control lines. By 7:45 p.m., crews had contained the blaze and lifted the orders.

“Thanks to a quick, coordinated response from multiple agencies and aggressive firefighting tactics we were able to successfully protect the lives and properties threatened by this fire,” SLO Deputy Fire Chief Michael Alforque said in the release.

The fire came within just a few feet of some homes.

Resident Mike Boswell, whose house neighbors the South Hills, posted a video to Twitter from his backyard, showing a plane dropping retardant just beyond his property line near the active fire. A few hours later, he posted a photo that showed how that retardant buffered his fence line from a large area of charred grass some feet up a hill.

“Fire in the open space behind our house tonight,” Boswell, a Cal Poly professor, wrote in the second post. “Great work by Cal Fire SLO and SLO City Fire, especially the aerial suppression.”



Officials said that the blaze threatened several dozen homes, a 4-million-gallon water tank, and “critical communication equipment” in the area.

One firefighter suffered a shoulder injury that required brief hospitalization. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The SLO Fire Department encouraged all residents to have a “Ready-Set-Go” evacuation plan and to register their cell phones with the county’s reverse 911 system.

“This fire serves as a strong reminder to the community of the need to be prepared for wildfires,” Alforque said. ∆
—Peter Johnson
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