Hearst Castle threatened by fast-moving Chimney Fire


The Chimney fire, a 17,000-acre fire in San Luis Obispo County, is threatening Hearst Castle and the buildings around it, Cal Fire authorities said Saturday afternoon. 

The fire was headed toward the national historic landmark and the leading edge was just two miles away, said Emily Hjortstorp, Cal Fire spokeswoman. Crews are expecting winds of up to 20 miles per hour, but the fire isn’t traveling especially fast, she said.

Bulldozers, trucks and firefighters are digging containment lines around the castle, Hjorstorp said. No evacuation orders have been issued for the area, she said.

“It is fire, and it is traveling in that direction, but it’s not raging the way it has been in the past,” Hjortstorp said.

The Chimney fire erupted on Aug. 13 near Lake Nacimiento. The blaze has destroyed 46 buildings and damaged seven more. while 232 other structures, including Hearst Castle, lie in its path. The fire is 35% contained. 

Calls to Hearst Castle’s public relations department were not immediately returned. 

 Dan Falat, a State Parks district superintendent, told the San Luis Obispo Tribune that Hearst Castle staff had been preparing and had a contingency plan to move some of the massive art and antiques collection if necessary. Falat stressed not all rare pieces could be moved.

The attraction was closed Saturday because of the fire and all public tours canceled, according to the castle’s reservation center. Its website said the castle was closed until further notice.

The castle, built in 1919 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, is a museum and state park that houses a large European art collection and normally hosts daily tours and occasional events. 

New evacuations were ordered Saturday afternoon in Bryson Hesperia, Mas Cove and Oak Shores.

Twitter: @frankshyong


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