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Cuesta Grade Fire

15 Jul Posted by in Wildland Fire | Comments
Cuesta Grade Fire

The fire broke out just before noon on Sunday on the Southbound side of Highway 101. Cal Fire says the fire burned 10 acres.

No structures were threatened and no injuries were reported.

The California Highway Patrol closed one lane of the highway. They say traffic on the Southbound 101 was backed up to the top of the grade.

Along with two hand crews on the ground, a bulldozer, five engines, three aircraft and a helicopter, CAL FIRE had to request five more engines, one being Templeton Fire with a crew of four.

A total of 75 firefighters were on scene.

The cause of Sunday’s brush fire at the base of the Cuesta Grade was a hot piece of metal from the brakes of a car descending the hill, said Cal Fire investigator Zach Nichols.

“It’s extremely common for a brake component or exhaust component to start a fire,” he added.

The 10-acre fire was first reported at 11:16 a.m., was contained by 1:43 p.m. and put out by 3:26 p.m. There were no injuries reported, but some of PG&E’s power poles were burned in the fire, according to CHP online logs, and traffic was significantly delayed on the Grade.

Nichols said that as drivers descend south on the steep Cuesta Grade, they often brake hard at the base to reduce speed, which heats up the brakes and causes pieces to fly off.

Because of a lack of rain, the heated metal can cause dry grasses to ignite into flame.

Nichols found a piece of metal in a burnt piece of grass on the southbound gutter of the highway, and from there could determine where the fire had spread.

KCOY Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo – News

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