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Firefighters slow Chimney fire’s path to Hearst Castle

A firefighting helicopter flies past Hearst Castle in San Simeon. The volatile Chimney fire is burning in the area.
(Joe Johnston / The Tribune)

The Chimney fire expanded to 24,096 acres Saturday night as fire teams worked to prevent its advance towards the historic Hearst Castle and other communities.

The fire’s leading edge was about two miles from the National Historic Landmark and museum on Saturday, and firefighters have managed to arrest the fire’s advance by concentrating trucks and firefighters in the area between the castle and the fire.

Winds that on Saturday were whipping the flames towards Hearst Castle reversed themselves temporarily, said Rich Brocchini, spokesman for Cal Fire. And thanks to cooler temperatures overnight, “the fire laid down a tad bit, so we were able to take advantage of that,” Brocchini said.

But the fire is still highly volatile, Brocchini added. The Chimney fire has destroyed 48 structures since it broke out Aug. 14, and the blaze is just 35% contained. More than 300 structures are still threatened by the fire, including Hearst Castle and some communities around Lake Nacimiento.

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“It’s a dynamic fire, and it has the potential to spread anywhere,” Brocchini said.

Hearst Castle, built for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in 1919, is a state park and historical museum that houses a large collection of European art. The castle is closed until further notice because of the danger.

frank.shyong@latimes.com

Twitter: @frankshyong

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