Residents watched the pop of flames as a helicopter circled the neighborhood above Slack Street and Henderson Avenue near Cal Poly on Sept. 26 around 5 p.m.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF CAL FIRE SLO
- TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT The "Poly Fire" started around 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 26, igniting above the "P" on the hillside above Cal Poly.
A yellow bulldozer was building a fire line, moving dirt and dry grass above the last home on Slack Street. A retardant plane flew low behind the hill and the helicopter continued its arc, dropping water each time it passed through the smoke. SLO Police SUVs drove the streets as some residents hauled valuables to their cars.
The fire started around 3:30 p.m., igniting above the "P" on the hillside above Cal Poly. Cal Fire San Luis Obispo had issued an evacuation warning for the homes in this neighborhood "to get them prepared should the fire turn and we need to get them out," Cal Fire Public Information Officer Chris Elms told New Times.
Elms said that although Cal Fire hadn't issued the same warning for Cal Poly, the university had voluntarily evacuated the two dorms (Yosemite and Sierra Madre) closest to the fire, "which was probably a good idea."
By around 8 p.m. that night, the fire had burned approximately 97 acres and was roughly 20 percent contained. The evacuation warning was lifted, and students and residents returned home.
According to Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier, "Everything went smoothly."
On Sept. 27, Elms said the fire was held at 97 acres and approximately 60 percent contained. He expected it to be fully contained by the evening of Sept. 28. Before press time, there were 10 fire engines, two water tenders, and four hand crews still on the fire.
"The main fire activity is pretty much down, we're mostly dealing with hot spots," Elms said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.