Firefighters started making significant progress on the 28,000-acre Alamo Fire burning southeast of Santa Maria, and the blaze is now 45 percent contained.
With more than 2,000 firefighters on scene, the fire was kept in check Monday night with minimal activity, according to Cal Fire. Firefighters still have to contend with low humidity and difficult terrain in the effort to put the fire out.
While the Alamo Fire is state’s largest, there are two other fires that have contributed to Bakersfield’s smokey air quality, and also leaving ash on cars and in pools, but firefighters are starting to get a handle of those blazes. The Parkfield Fire, which was burning west of Parkfield on the San Luis Obispo-Monterey County border, is now 100 percent contained after burning more than 1,800 acres, while the Whittier Fire, burning east of Santa Barbra near Lake Cachuma, is now 25 percent contained, but has scored more than 10,000 acres.
On Monday, the efforts to protect a world-renowned Santa Maria vineyard from the Alamo Fire was described to NEWSTALK 1180/96.1 KERN’s sister station in San Luis Obispo, KRUSH 92.5.
“It seemed like in the first 24 hours it was going to be put out pretty quickly,” said Michael Brugeli, who works for Santa Maria’s Bien Nacido Vineyards, which grows grapes for more than 30 Central Coast wineries. “Things got out of hand pretty quickly. The fire just kept growing and growing.”
Brugeli said on Saturday the fire began cresting the hillsides just to the east of the vineyards, but that aggressive work by both firefighters and the vineyard’s employees kept the fire away.
“We were able to work through the night to maintain some of the fire lines that we had in place, and also build some new lines, and assist the fire department with their backfiring operations, Brugeli said.
The fire has still closed Highway 166 between New Cuyama and Highway 101.