Fire investigators looking into recent back-to-back blazes at Oceano Dunes

Sep 1, 2020

In the month of August alone, five brush fires have sparked around the state park at Oceano Dunes.

Clint Bullard with Cal Fire San Luis Obispo said over the last few months, crews have fought dozens of brush fires in the area.

“We are definitely experiencing an uptick in what could be considered the norm for fires either around or at the Oceano Dunes," Bullard said.

Bullard said while there is no particular spot these fires are igniting, many of them tend to be around the Highway 1 offramp. This is also an area where homeless encampments have been cleared in the past by park rangers.

However, Bullard said as of right now, investigators are not sure if the fires are connected to people possibly living in nearby wooded areas.

“We do believe the fires to be human-caused," Bullard said. "That is not to say that they are arson. But we do believe they are human-caused and they remain under investigation.”

Bullard said while firefighters have kept recent fires relatively small, the terrain where the fires are igniting is creating an extra challenge.

“There aren’t roads to all portions where we are seeing the fires," Bullard said. "So we have to, many times, hike into the location.”

With hotter temperatures expected later this week, Bullard said people living nearby should take the time to prepare their houses in the case of an emergency.

“Take steps to make certain that your home and your surroundings are safe from the effects should a large scale fire happen on the dunes," Bullard said.

With tourists expected to flock to the coastline for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, he also urges care with bonfires.

“You could be doing everything right sitting around the pit with your friends and family, enjoying the holiday weekend, Bullard said. "But If the winds pick up and it escapes and causes a fire, you could still be held responsible for that.”