A fire in Paso Robles on June 22 destroyed two homes, damaged nine others and forced a third of the city to evacuate. The nonfatal wildfire started in a small stretch of the Salinas River, in an area where city officials consider dry grasses and brush an ongoing fire danger.
Now, Paso Robles and the regional water board have agreed on an emergency plan to clear out the vegetation. This comes after Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin and two other local politicians penned a letter to CalEPA demanding the water board let them use mechanized tools to cut back the overgrowth.
“Some parties were being very narrow-focused on their purpose,” Martin said. “We are sensitive about the environment, we don’t want to tear up biospheres, we don’t want to do any of that — but when it comes right down to it, it’s more important that homes don’t burn down and people aren’t killed.”
Paso Robles previously declared a local emergency after a summer 2019 fire, enabling city crews to go in and cut the vegetation without approval from the water board. However, Martin said the city was told not to do that again, and be sure to go through the proper channels the next time or face legal action.