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Fires sparked by thunderstorms throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties

/ Source: KSBY-TV

Friday, August 15, 2008
Reported by: Rob Carlmark, Jill James

5:20 p.m. The U.S. FOREST SERVICE says that the Buckhorn Fire has now grown to 125 to 150 acres. There is still no estimated time for containment, however, there is a retardant line around the Buckhorn Fire as well as the two smaller fires in the area.

3:55 p.m. The U.S. FOREST SERVICE reports that there are still three fires burning in the Los Padres National Forest area. The largest is currently at about 60 acres, the Buckhorn Fire. It is about a mile northeast of Bear Camp. The other two fires are smaller, between two to five acres.

There are currently 80 firefighters on the ground. Another 170 are being ordered.

There are seven air tankers helping fight the fires. One more is being ordered. Four helicopters are being used, and another helicopter is being ordered to the fires.

3:45 p.m. CAL FIRE/SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY FIRE released the following information on the multiple lightning-sparked fires burning in San Luis Obispo County:

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3:20 p.m. POWER OUTAGES: A total of 155 PG&E customers are still without power. The largest outages are in San Luis Obispo. There are 74 customers in the Pismo Beach area and 30 customers along Suey Creek Road without power. The rest are scattered all throughout San Luis Obispo County.

2:45 p.m. ROAD CLOSURES: California Highway Patrol advises Highway 166 is closed at Tepusquet Canyon Road, and Tepusquet Canyon Road is closed at Santa Maria Mesa Road. These are both due to the lightning fires in the area. No estimate on when they will re-open.

1:50 p.m. SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY FIRE states there is a new fire: the Round Fire. This fire started about a mile south of the Orcutt/Morretti Canyon fire.

According to the U.S. FOREST SERVICE there are currently three fires burning in the San Rafael Wilderness area:

Buckhorn Fire ... this went from three fires into one big fire. It is currently 60 acres, burning in a northerly direction with a moderate rate of spread. It is four miles from any structures and there is no eminent danger, but that could change quickly with the wind. This fire is located just outside the San Rafael Wilderness area.Owl Fire ... this fire is in the Salsipuedes Canyon, in the San Rafael Wilderness area. It is about two acres and is spreading at a moderate rate of speed. This fire is burning in a remote area, difficult to access.Manzanita Fire ... this fire is five acres, located just inside the San Rafael Wilderness area. It is 1.5 miles south of Owl Canyon. This fire is also burning in a very remote area. U.S. Forest Service is currently on scene with seven air tanks, four helicopters and 80 crews battling the blazes. An additional tanker and helicopter have been ordered. They have also put in a request for an additional 120 firefighters to assist. Crews are watching the area very carefully for what the forest service called "sleeper fires," which are small lightning fires whose smoke becomes visible as the day heats up.

11:10 a.m. SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY FIRE states the Orcutt Road fire, in the area of Lopez Lake and Morretti Canyon, is still about 20 acres, though forward progression has been stopped. However the fire is not yet contained.

The fire behind San Luis Obispo High School is now called the Horton Fire and stands at two to three acres. Crews are on scene and forward progress has been slowed.

The Cuesta Grade fire is about ten acres on the east side of Highway 101. Forward progress has been stopped, but the fire is not considered contained. Air support is doing lightning reconnaissance in the area.

A new fire has stared on Coyote Springs Road, called the Coyote Fire. It is expected to be a spot fire with a one to two acre potential.

The Tepusquet Canyon fire has been surrounded with fire retardant.

More air support is doing reconnaissance along Highway 166.

9:30 a.m. SANTA BARBARA COUNTY FIRE states the Tepusquet Canyon fire is moving slowly, burning on the top of a hill. There are additional small fires burning in the back country. There is no threat to structures, and no one is being evacuated as of 9:15 a.m. Bulldozers and crews are battling on the ground, helicopters are dropping water.

9:10 a.m. SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY FIRE is expecting an air attack on the entire county within the hour. The Cuesta Grade fire is at approximately one acre and is moderately spreading. Crews have evacuated at least one house off the Cuesta Grade.

San Luis Obispo County Fire confirmed the following fires are burning: the largest fire is on Orcutt Road, cross street is Morretti Canyon, approximately 25 acres are burning there. There is a small vegetation fire burning behind San Luis Obispo High School. Santa Barbara County's Tepusquet Canyon fires are still burning. And the Cuesta Grade fire.

8:30 a.m. According to Santa Barbara County Fire, there are several small fires burning in Tepusquet Canyon. Crews are concerned about the fires in the middle of the canyon - no evacuations have been announced yet, but potential for evacuations.

8:00 a.m. According to one firefighter on the ground, reporting on the scanner, there are currently five fires burning in Santa Barbara County.

8:15 a.m. According to San Luis Obispo County Fire, there are multiple fires in the Lopez Lake and Edna Valley areas. Several fires are in the Orcutt Road area of Lopez Lake.

8:15 a.m. CUESTA GRADE AREA: According to scanner traffic, there is a vegetation fire at the base of the Cuesta Grade on the northbound side of Highway 101.

8:15 a.m. SAN LUIS OBISPO HIGH SCHOOL: According to Cal Fire a vegetation fire has been reported behind San Luis Obispo High School.

8:15 a.m. MONTEREY STREET: Another fire was reported on scanner traffic on the hill above Monterey Street, off northbound Highway 101

A fairly active cluster of thunderstorms is working its way across the Central Coast this morning.

Brief periods of heavy rain is also possible through mid-morning with another chance to see activity in the late afternoon.

Most locations will see just clouds and dry conditions, but isolated chances remain throughout all of San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County.

If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning - limit activity outdoors if you can.

Two fires have been reported as a result of this complex of thunderstorms near Highway 166 and crews have been dispatched to the area.

Radar images of the active cells are available in the weather section of our Web site by clicking .

We will keep you updated here on throughout the day.