Cuesta Fire

Flames threaten a small Central Coast town

The Cuesta Fire started Aug. 16 by a truck dragging a chain along Hwy. 101 near San Luis Obispo, California. By the next night, the wind whipped flames were threatening the small town of Santa Margarita

Crews from near and far, including this U.S. Forest Service firefighter from Santa Barbara, converged to fight the Cuesta Fire and save a community.

Helicopters flew throughout the daylight hours, dropping load after load of water on the flames, including these skycranes, below, which carried 1900 gallons of water.
At top a U.S. Forestry firefighter keeps an eye on the fire burning next to Hwy. 101, just outside San Luis Obispo. The California Army National Guard joined the fight, below, and gathered for a prayer before heading out to battle the blaze.
A Cal Fire crew extinguishes one of the many drought stricken oak trees that have added fuel to the fires advance.
Above, Cal Fire/San Luis Obispo Chief Rob Lewin describes one of the many tense moments during the fighting of the Cuesta Fire.
U.S. Forestry firefighters that traveled all the way from South Dakota look out for hot spots to extinguish.
  A Cal Fire truck heads towards the fire.
The rapid response and long hours of work paid off, keeping the flames at bay as the fire closed to within a quarter mile of the town of Santa Margarita. The fire lines held and by the third morning of the fire, the winds had shifted, pushing the flames away from the small community with a population of 1,260. As many as1600 firefighters fought the 3,500 acre fire and were able to contain it in less than a week.
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