The Chimney Fire causes mass evacuations
A large fire broke out near Lake Nacimiento on August 13, at 4:03 p.m., forcing over 100 residents in the San Simeon region to evacuate their homes. The fire absorbed 46,344 acres of dry grasslands, destroying 70 buildings with eight more damaged. Forty-nine residences left were forced to evacuate, and evacuees funneled to one of three dedicated emergency response shelters run by Red Cross, the most prominent being Flamson Middle School.
Two shelters briefly opened in the town of Lockwood, a small town in Southern Monterey County. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but remains under investigation. The Chimney Fire was reportedly 100 percent contained as of 7:30 a.m. on September 6, according to Cal Fire.
The incident is the largest Paso Robles fire event in decades.
Thousands of firefighters from all over California rushed to the scene and battled the fire daily. “We can work up to 21 days straight,” said the North Region Public Information Officer Scott McLean. “I’ve been getting about four and a half hours of sleep for the last two weeks. We do what we have to.” Since September, Cal Fire has dealt with 4,270 wildfires spread across 21 units in the state. McLean, who was the chief information liaison in this incident, has overseen 12 out of 21.
The fire spanned 24 days and gathered over 4,000 individuals, including fire fighters, medics, chefs, clean-up and helping hands to be found at the three make-shift response shelters for families taken from the fire’s path of danger.
Sophomore Zach Gomez vacated his home during the fire. He described the event as a shock. “There was lots of ash all around the house, and it was hard to see across the hallway because of all the smoke,” said Gomez. “…The first things I grabbed were my football gear and skateboards.” Gomez stayed at his uncle’s house while the fire was being managed.