A huge wildfire that has been raging for days has created a crisis for the famed California landmark Hearst Castle, located above San Simeon on the state’s Central Coast. The Los Angeles Times reports that the fast-moving Chimney Fire, which has burned at least 37,000 acres in San Luis Obispo County, has kept teams of firefighters busy protecting the castle.
NBC News was reporting this morning that the fire, which moved to within three miles of the castle, was not actively burning in the area closest to the landmark, and the castle “appeared to have escaped the wrath” of the fire. But the site remained closed to the public, with emergency personnel on high alert.
“Parking lots outside the visitors’ center are full, but with fire engines instead of tourists’ cars,” The Times reported today. “The property has been abuzz with hundreds of firefighters and is serving as a full-fledged operations center. Firefighting aircraft are even using the Hearst family’s private airstrip, said Roger Colligan, a supervising ranger at California State Park.”
Colligan noted that the castle is packed with “priceless, irreplaceable items.” Staffers remained poised to remove the artwork and other valuables if necessary.
“Colligan said Monday that although the castle did not appear to be under immediate threat by the fire, crews were well aware that winds can change quickly,” The Times reported.
Said Colligan: “We really don’t expect the fire to really come any closer than it has with the fire lines that have been cut. We’re pretty optimistic.”