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CA – Wildfire Threatens California’s Iconic Hearst Castle, Officials Say

Published:
Aug 21 2016 12:00 AM EDT
By Pam Wright
weather.com
Story Highlights

Authorities closed California’s Hearst Castle Saturday.

The fast-moving Chimney fire came within two miles of the former playground for the famous.

Hearst Castle, one of California’s most iconic landmarks, was closed Saturday as the fast-moving Chimney fire drew closer to the grounds, according to authorities.

Cal Fire spokeswoman Emily Hjortstorp told the Los Angeles Times that the leading edge of the fire that broke out on Aug. 13 near Lake Nacimiento in central California was just two miles away from the mansion.

“It is fire, and it is traveling in that direction, but it’s not raging the way it has been in the past,” Hjortstorp told the newspaper.

While no evacuation orders have been issued for the area, the castle was closed and a contingency plan to move some of the pieces of the massive art and antique collection should it become necessary, according to Dan Falat, a State Parks district superintendent, who noted that not all of the rare pieces could be moved.

(MORE: Firefighters Have a Strong Hold On California’s Blue Cut Fire, Which Has Destroyed Dozens of Homes, Officials Say)

State Parks supervising ranger Robert Chambers told The Associated Press the castle has closed for various reasons, he could not recall a time when Hearst Castle closed because of a wildfire.

“A fire has never come this close before,” Chambers told the AP.

On Sunday, Cal Fire reported that the blaze had destroyed 48 buildings, damaged seven more and was 35 percent contained. About 232 other structures, including Hearst Castle, remain threatened by the fire that has burned almost 20,000 acres.

A helicopter flies past Hearst Castle on its way to fight a wildfire in San Simeon, California, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. A growing wildfire in central California has forced the closure of the historic Hearst Castle. Fire officials say the blaze was about 3 ½ miles from the hilltop estate on Saturday.(Joe Johnston/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo) via AP)

According to the Hearst Castle website, the landmark which is generally open for daily tours and events is closed until further notice.

The castle was built in 1919 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Today, the 165-room mansion with its 127 acres of gardens is a museum, state park and is home to an extensive European art collection. In its heydey, it was a playground for Hollywood celebrities, according to the AP.

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