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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 9:47 pm | Fair 53º


Front Fire Containment Up to 98% as Weather Aids Firefighters

Full containment is expected Sunday for 1,014-acre blaze burning north of Highway 166 east of Santa Maria

Containment map for the Front Fire. Click to view larger
As of Thursday morning, the Front Fire on Los Padres National Forest land at the border of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties had burned 936 acres, and was 83-percent contained. Black line indicates containment while red represents open fire line. (U.S. Forest Service map)

Four days after it sparked, the Front Fire burning east of Santa Maria has nearly been surrounded as crews get cooperation from Mother Nature.

As of Thursday night, the fire on Los Padres National Forest land at the border of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties had burned 1,014 acres, with containment listed at 98 percent. 

Full containment is expected Sunday for the fire that started at approximately 1:30 p.m. Aug. 19 off Highway 166, near Rock Front Ranch and the forest’s off-highway vehicle area.

“Favorable weather is helping firefighters continue to strengthen and build the containment lines,” Forest Service officials said. “Steep uneven terrain and hazard trees are still a threat, so firefighter and public safety are top priorities.”

In addition to firefighter and public safety, other priorities include protection of red-legged frog habitat, major power lines and archaeological sites.

Since complete containment is imminent, some crews were being released to assist other fires. 

Among those being released were some personnel from the Santa Maria Fire Department.

“All members performed at a high level as we assisted our neighboring agencies. Good job!” agency representatives said on the Twitter page

The force battling the fire droppd to 241 personnel, a number likely to drop further in the coming days.

Highway 166, which had closed for 20 hours earlier this week due to the fire, remained open Thursday.

Due to the fire and the presence of firefighting personnel and equipment, federal officials have issued a closure order for the Front Fire area covering roads and trails north of Highway 166 within and adjacent to the fire area, effective through December.

The closure order and map can be found by clicking here.

Forest Service representatives noted that wood and charcoal fires, fireworks, smoking and recreational target shooting are prohibited in the Los Padres National Forest. 

Also, hunting is not allowed in the fire closure areas. 

Forest Service officials said the cause of the fire remained under investigation. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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