NORTHERN SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - Evacuation orders are gradually being lifted for residential areas affected by the Chimney Fire that continues to burn in northern San Luis Obispo County and southern Monterey County.
Favorable weather conditions slowed the fire's growth Thursday to a few hundred acres, with more than 43,000 acres burned and containment increasing to 41% as of Thursday night.
There is a sense at the Chimney Fire Incident Command Post that they are reaching a turning point in the nearly two week old fire.
The words cautiously optimistic are being heard more often to describe the massive effort to contain the Chimney Fire that's been burning since August 13.
Areas under evacuation order are gradually being reopened to residents.
"The area of South Shores, Cal Shasta and Tri-Counties, those evacuation orders have been lifted, we are repopulating at this time", says Mark Beveridge with Calfire, "as far as the Oak Shores area, we still have assessors in there and we should get some word on that tomorrow (Friday), hopefully we can get people back in there and be repopulating tomorrow, all the other evacuations have not been lifted as of tonight."
The Chimney Fire is burning further north and northwest into steep, rugged terrain with dry vegetation in southern Monterey County and closer to Fort Hunter Liggett U.S. Army Base.
"One of the biggest concerns that we have is the fire burning up into the Fort", Beveridge says, "as of right now we are holding that perimeter."
"A lot of the burn area did stay compliant within the containment areas", Beveridge says about the fire activity on Thursday, "that is a very good sign for us, we were expecting a wind event today that we got a little bit of but we are still within our containment areas."
Cooler weather overnight is expected to help firefighters that continue to work 24 hour shifts on the fire lines.