Chimney Fire
San Luis Obispo, CA

The Chimney Fire was one of many fires that burned throughout local San Luis Obispo in 2016.  The Chimney and Soberanes Fire are both restoration sites from a result of high intensity burning wild fires.  This site along with our other fire burned sites are part of a Cal Fire restoration program where we partner with local restoration groups to conduct high volume native seeding and seedling plantings, in order to help regain native vegetation growth to prevent mudslides and sediment erosion.  To learn more about the fire's incidents, please read below.

The Chimney Fire was a wildfire in the Santa Lucia Range, within San Luis Obispo County, California. The fire temporarily closed Hearst Castle to tourists and also forced the closure of Highway 1 along the scenic Big Sur coast for a time. By the time the fire was contained on September 6, 2016 it had burned 46,344 acres (188 km2) acres of land.

The fire was first reported Saturday August 13 shortly after 4:00 p.m. Evacuations were ordered in the area of Running Deer Ranch, located on the south side of Lake Nacimiento.


Chimney Fire burnout operations

On Sunday afternoon the 14th, officials announced that Highway 1 would be closed for at least 24 hours due to fire activity. Dry south-west winds and temperatures approaching 100 °F (38 °C) drove the fire.

By Monday morning the fire had grown to over 4,300 acres (17 km2), including within the Los Padres National Forest. At a briefing on Monday morning, August 15, officials warned that the area had not burned since the 1960s meaning there is a significant amount of dry, flammable brush that could cause dramatic fire behavior. Officials from CAL FIRE also stated that at least 20 homes had been damaged or destroyed, but made clear that the extent of the damage would not be known until crews could enter the burned areas to make a full assessment.

At 17,000 acres (69 km2) on Saturday afternoon with 35% containment, the fire was within 2 miles (3.2 km) of Hearst Castle. Tours were cancelled as park staff prepared to move some of the massive art and antiques collection if necessary. No artwork was in any immediate danger, and did not have to be moved.

On August 26, thirteen days after the fire started, the fire neared being half contained, i.e., 49 residences and 21 other structures were destroyed, nearly 1900 other structures were threatened, 45,008 acres (182 km2) had been burned, and it was 47% contained.

As of August 31, the fire had burned 46,344 acres (187.55 km2) and was 85% contained. All evacuation orders and road closures have been lifted. The firefighting effort is starting to wind down, although copious smoke is still evident on windy days, and the fire is still uncontrolled towards the northwest.