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Wildfire in Avila Beach prompts evacuations, Highway 101 closure

CalFire SLO
A brush fire started just before 3 p.m. and quickly grew to over 300 acres, fanned by high winds.

Update 6/16/20 10 a.m. All lanes of US Highway 101 are now reopened, although the northbound Avila Beach and Spyglass offramps remain closed. All evacuation orders have been lifted. Firefighters worked through the night trying to contain the fire. The strong winds of Monday evening have died down and homes in the area are no longer under threat. CalFire San Luis Obispo says 300 firefighters and multiple aircraft from across the Central Coast are on the scene this morning, and the fire's cause is under investigation. It has burned about 400 acres with 20 percent containment.

Update 6/16/20 6:30 a.m.

All lanes of Highway 101 are now open through the Shell Beach area, according to Caltrans. However, the northbound on and off ramps at Spyglass Road remain closed. The northbound off ramp at Avila Beach Drive is also still closed.

Update 6/15/20 8:58 p.m.

The southbound lanes of Highway 101 through Shell Beach have reopened. The northbound lanes remain closed between Mattie Road and Avila Beach Drive, according to Caltrans, however drivers are advised to use Highway 227 as an alternate route.

Update 6/15/20 7:21 p.m.

The fire has grown to about 400 acres, according to CalFire, and has been contained at about 10%. An evacuation for the Pismo Heights area that was previously issued has been cancelled.

The San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District has issued a health advisory due to smoke affecting air quality. The APCD says changing winds make it hard to predict which areas of the county may be most affected, but to expect smoke in the region until the fire is out. The agency recommends that if you smell smoke or see ash, go inside, avoid strenuous activity, and close all windows and doors to the outside

Original story:

Area firefighters are working on a fast-moving wildfire east of Highway 101 near Avila Beach. Highway 101 is closed in both directions at Shell Beach, and traffic is badly snarled in the area.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office says it is a dynamic situation and evacuations are underway on Live Oak Lane, Indian Knob Road, Monte Road, Gragg Canyon Road and the neighborhoods above Mattie Road on the east side of Highway 101. In addition, the Pismo Preserve has been evacuated. Homes are threatened along Shell Beach Ridge.

According to the Sheriff's office, an evacuation warning is in effect for the area east of Highway 101 from North Bello Street, south to Price Canyon Road, and east to the Pismo Beach city limit. A warning means to be prepared to evacuate on a moment's notice. The Sheriff's office warns that those who must evacuate should head south, not north.

CalFire San Luis Obispo says aircraft and fire engines from around the county are working on the wildfire, now reportedly at 300 acres. 

An evacuation center is being set up in the Arroyo Grande WalMart parking lot. 

As director of programming and content, Marisa Waddell coordinates the radio programming on KCBX and KCBX HD2 and leads efforts to develop content on the KCBX website and other digital platforms. She manages the KCBX on-air and newsroom staff, volunteer program hosts, and contributors. Marisa also hosts the Americana music program The Road Home, (Thurs. 6:30-8:00 p.m.) and contributes interviews and stories to the weekly KCBX radio magazine Issues and Ideas and to KCBX News.
Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.