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San Luis Obispo County, California

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Chimney Fire Photo, Courtesy Carol MarsOn Aug. 23, the County of San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors ratified a local emergency proclamation made by County Emergency Services Director and CAO Dan Buckshi on Aug. 20 related to the Chimney Fire burning in the northern region of San Luis Obispo County. The Board also directed County staff to bring back necessary information to waive fees for people who lose structures in the fire.

This proclamation allows County staff and partner agencies to respond even more promptly than they already have been by streamlining the approval process necessary to obtain additional assistance and resources.

“As the Chimney Fire spreads at an accelerated pace, there are extremely perilous safety conditions for people and property in the county, and it’s become harder to mitigate the fire despite firefighters’ best efforts,” said County Emergency Services Manager Ron Alsop. “We have to be able to respond and change course quickly. This proclamation allows us to do that.”

Over the weekend, the fire’s behavior was extreme and continued to challenge the control lines. This morning, the fire had burned an estimated 37,100 acres and is 35 percent contained. Fire teams, a County damage assessment team, and American Red Cross are assessing the damage left by the fire to help determine the level of services that may be needed by affected residents and businesses. However, due to the ongoing fire and related dangers, the initial basic damage assessment will change as fire conditions allow additional damage assessments to occur. As of the morning of Aug. 23, the initial damage assessment has found that the fire is threatening nearly 1,896 structures, has destroyed 38 residences and 18 other structures, and has damaged seven structures. Follow up damage assessments will be made to help gather more accurate information.

More than 2,400 people have been affected by evacuation orders. The areas ordered to evacuate have included Cal Shasta, Rancho del Lago, South Shore Village, Christmas Cove, Oak Shores, North Shore Boat and Ski, Laguna Vista, South Shore Lake San Antonio, Sapaque Valley and Bryson Hesperia in both San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties.

An evacuation center is set up at Flamson Middle School, 2405 Spring Street in Paso Robles. Small animals can be taken to the shelter. Assistance for large animals can be obtained by calling the Horse Emergency Evacuation Team (HEET) at (805) 550-0213. For smaller animal relief, call (805) 423-4934.

The fire is also creating health risks for many areas of county. County Public Health officials are concerned about the health effects of the smoke in our region. County officials recommend taking certain precautions to reduce the harmful health effects associated with smoke exposure. The County Public Health Agency and the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) have worked together on these challenges. APCD had a web page dedicated to the Chimney Fire that can be found at www.slocleanair.org.

Anyone with immediate needs for assistance can contact the American Red Cross at (805) 250-1533. Additional resources for immediate needs may also be found by calling 211. A comprehensive post-fire recovery tool with a step-by-step recovery process can be found online to help disaster survivors. Other information related to assistance will be provided once the fires are contained and recovery and related needs are determined and the information will be released by and available from the County Office of Emergency Services.

Hundreds of agencies are assisting with this fire, including fire agencies from throughout the state and beyond. The County is working closely with many agencies and jurisdictions in both San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties including CAL FIRE, the Sheriff’s Office, Cal OES and a vast number of other cooperating agencies. The County has activated the County Emergency Operations Center as needed to coordinate emergency activities. A public information line is open at (805) 543-2444 to provide current incident information.

For the first time, the County Office of Emergency Services activated Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to support evacuation orders. These free alerts are sent via text message to cell phones within range of an imminent and dangerous situation. The alerts were sent last weekend to residents in areas affected by evacuation orders by targeting cell towers in the specific affected geographic area.

Updated emergency information is also being posted on the following social media accounts:

Twitter: @CALFIRE_SLO and @slocountyoes

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SLOCountyOES.

Other information related to assistance will be provided once the fire is contained and recovery needs are determined. The information will be released by and available from the County Office of Emergency Services.

Get more information and resources.

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