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More evacuation warnings issued as Chimney fire continues burning

More evacuation warnings issued as Chimney fire continues burning

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The wildfire that began burning in northern San Luis Obispo County on Aug. 13 now has grown to 41,675 acres, with 39-percent containment, as of Wednesday. 

Evacuation warnings have been issued for residents living north of San Simeon Creek Road, including Van Gordon Creek Road, Keystone Mine Road and Red Mountain Road.

Road closures are issued for Van Gordon Creek Road and San Simeon Creek Road.

Although the cause of the Chimney fire still is under investigation, officials said Wednesday they have determined that the blaze was not intentionally set. 

More than 3,972 personnel now have been assigned to battle the fire, with 333 engine companies, 61 water tenders, 17 helicopters, seven air tankers, 107 hand crews and 44 dozers. 

The number of structures under threat remains at 1,898. Officials said 48 residences and 20 other structures have been destroyed, with eight damaged. One injury has been reported. 

Despite active fire behavior overnight Tuesday, firefighters were able to minimize further progression of the fire line and increased containment overnight. With schools back in session and traffic increasing, officials are asking people to remain vigilant of emergency personnel and equipment throughout the community. 

Threats remain to Oak Shores, Christmas Cove, South Shore Village, Rancho Del Lago, Cal Shasta, Bryson Hesperia and Lake San Antonio. 

Evacuation orders are in place for Christmas Cove, Oak Shores, North Shore Boat and Ski, Laguna Vista, South Shore Village, Rancho Del Lago, Cal Shasta, Lake San Antonio, Sapaqua Valley and Bryson Hesperia in both San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties. Any residents who have yet to evacuate are asked to do so immediately due to increasing fire activity in their respective areas. 

Flamson Middle School at 2405 Spring St. in Paso Robles has been established as an evacuation center. 

Road closures remain issued for G14 Interlake Road from Lake Nacimiento Dam to Bryson Hesperia Road. Traffic control points are being manned by the California Highway Patrol at Interlake Road at Bryson Hesperia Road as well as Interlake Road at Lake Nacimiento. Las Tablas arm on Lake Nacimiento is closed. All boating activity remains closed west of the Las Tablas arm on Lake Nacimiento, including all vessel launching west of the arm on the lake. 

Air quality for the county is being impacted by smoke from the Chimney fire, according to SLO Clean Air. Skies are hazy and inundated by the smoke from the fire. Changing winds and fire conditions make it difficult to predict which areas of the county may be most affected, but officials say until the fire is out, smoke will be present in the region. County officials recommend limiting outdoor activity if smoke or ash is present. 

Heavy smoke conditions are expected to continue through the weekend, with San Miguel, Paso Robles and Atascadero areas having the greatest smoke impacts. 

A local emergency that was declared Saturday by County Emergency Services was ratified by the SLO County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The proclamation allows county staff and partner agencies to respond even more quickly by streamlining the approval process necessary to obtain additional assistance and resources. 

The Chimney fire began around 4 p.m. Aug. 13, south of Lake Nacimiento and along Chimney Rock and Running Deer roads. Since Tuesday, the fire began growing and moving toward the northeast direction of the lake, according to county officials.

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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