Haze from Central Coast wildfires stir confusion in Fresno County

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Worried Coalinga residents called in reports of a wildfire in their area but when crews got there they found that it was the massive amount of smoke stemming from a wildfire burning over 100 miles away. (KFSN)

The latest fire to break out in California is the Chimney Fire in Paso Robles.

Cal Fire Fresno says more than 11 engines and 10 crews from the Mineral Fire have been sent over to assist.

"Those are not clouds, that's smoke actually coming over from the Chimney Fire," Capt. Will Goodman with Cal Fire said.

That fire is more than a hundred miles away over in Paso Robles but traces of it have been spotted here in the Central Valley.

"We had local reports from the Los Gatos Creek Canyon outside of Coalinga," he said.

Goodman said dispatchers have been getting a number of calls from people thinking this smoke is the result of something burning here locally.

"We sent a full response team for new wildland fire," Goodman said. "Luckily for us, it was just the smoke coming over from the Chimney Fire."

But for the folks on the Central Coast, this is not good news.

Goodman said when smoke hangs low to the ground like this chances are firefighting efforts have been hampered.

"It makes it tougher for aerial firefighting, whether it's tankers or helicopters, to get in there low," he explained. "Because if they can't see the terrain it's unsafe so they have to back out."

The Chimney Fire is one of many wildfires burning in California.

There are 11 active fires that over 7,500 firefighters are battling right now and Goodman tells Action News a lot of those teams are made up of men and women from the valley.

23:21 Roughly in the Central Valley Cal Fire and local government combined you're looking at about 500 personnel

Goodman said Cal Fire has activated a staffing pattern because of the number of wildfires breaking out - that means all off days for firefighters have been canceled.

"We have firefighters that have either been on the fire line or in fire stations for an excess of 28 days and unless you have approved vacation you're basically stuck at work," he said. "And that is so that we go out and staff these fires."

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wildfirecal firefresno countyCoalinga
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