Fire season starts on the Central Coast



The Central Coast’s first major wildfire this season lasted almost a week and burned 4,346 acres in and around the Los Padres National Forest southeast of the Carrizo Plain.

The Grand Fire burned on the eastern slope of the San Emigdio Mountains, about 12 miles from the hiking destination Mount Pinos.

Pushed up the mountainside by strong winds, the flames revealed a small field of marijuana growing on U.S. Forest Service land.

“It was partially burned when our fire guys came up on it,” Los Padres public affairs officer Andrew Madsen said. “Some guys were doing some gardening up there.”

Cal Fire reported the Grand Fire 80 percent contained by dusk on May 18, just three days after it started. However, crews took an additional 3 1/2 days to completely put out the fire because of difficult terrain and unpredictable winds.

“It’s hard whenever you have a fire wind driven and upslope,” Madsen said. “There’s patches where it’s real steep terrain.”

On May 15, the Grand Fire moved extremely close to the rural community of Frazier Park, forcing an evacuation of the local high school. According to staff at the Kern County Sheriff’s Department mountain outpost in Frazier Park, a sudden change in the winds pushed the fire very near the school before the winds changed again.

Cal Fire also put out a 35-acre brush fire northeast of Cayucos on May 20. Traffic on Highway 46 could see the smoke rising from Thunder Canyon until crews managed to contain the blaze that evening.

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