Archive for July, 2008


July 19, 2008


The OES has already submitted an Initial Damage Estimate (IDE) up to the state. This data is used as the basis to make the initial request for federal assistance. Step two in this process is for the State and FEMA to conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment, where they verify the initial damage estimate. We are finally at step two! Once completed we will finally have a decision on federal assistance (Step 3.)

Please help us in contacting ALL of the listed residents and businesses who had damages and lost revenue. We still have not received completed damage surveys from most residents and/or caretakers & owners. If you know how to get in touch, please have them complete the forms below.

There are two options.

Option A:

Click on the two links below, complete them on your computer and e-mail them to the address listed below:

Form 1 – Business and Economic Impact Assessment – Excel Spreadsheet (For Business Owners and Self-Employed Residents)

Form 2 – Business or Residence Damage Survey – Microsoft Word Document (For Individuals and Businesses with property damage)

E-mail completed form(s) to Rob Clyburn at

Option B:

Click on the links above, or the more print-ready forms below, that you can fill out by hand and return at a table that the CPOA will staff at the Big Sur Bakery on Monday, July 21st, from 10AM to 12PM.  They will assist you in filling these out if you have questions:

Form 1 – Business and Economic Impact Assessment – text file (For Business Owners and Self-Employed Residents)

Form 2 – Business or Residence Damage Survey – PDF (For Individuals and Businesses with property damage)

Please let your neighbors know!


Notes from the Burned Area Response Team (BAER) meeting

July 18, 2008

These are notes from the Burned Area Response Team (BAER) meeting held at the Multi-Agency Facility at The Big Sur Station on Thursday Evening July 17th at 6 P.M. taken by Belinda Shoemaker (thanks Belinda!):

Firstly, as Lisa Goettel was unable to attend the meeting last night, I agreed to take the notes. My apologies up-front for my lesser standard of note taking!

The BAER team members; Mike Boone, incident commander for the west side and John Bradford from the U.S Forrest Service under the leadership of Kevin Cooper (previously the BAER team leader for the Kirk fire in 1999) each gave presentations and took questions and answers from the community about the plans in hand for the long and short term emergency stabilization and rehabilitation of the areas affected by the Basin Complex Fire in Big Sur.  Frank Pinney represented The Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Up-date from Mike Boone – Incident Commander:

  • Mike reported the good news that over the last few days the fire fighters have continued to make excellent progress in and around the Boy Scout camp area. Additionally Mike reported:
  • Problems with fallen trees and landslides around boy scout camp.
  • Numerous 911 calls to which they are willing to respond. These calls pertain mainly to flare-ups and smoke areas.  Mike suggests if residents feel there are significant threats they should come down to highway 1 to the response unit. Response time might be faster and free up the 911 system.
  • The tan oaks within the containment area will continue to smoke for several weeks.
  • They continue to do water barning to reduce to suppress burn and smoke areas (some of us witnessed Chinook helicopters yesterday. They continue to draw water from the ocean.)
  • 160 person crew remains stationed at Molera, and includes 12 fire engines and 3 hand crews. This number will be reduced over the weekend. A crew will continue to be in Big Sur over night.

Frank Pinney expressed concern about, and the need to look forward to winter and what is likely to occur.  In response to this Kevin Cooper proceeded with his presentation.

Presentation by Kevin Cooper, BAER Team Leader:
Kevin gave a slide presentation outlining plans for Big Sur. Please see video recording of the meeting for details.

  • The objective of the BAER team is to protect life, property, cultural, and natural resources.
  • The Baer process includes; assessment/prescription and treatment of the burn areas, implantation of remediation plan, monitoring of treatment plan.
  • The goal is to minimize threats to property, roads, and facilities
  • The BAER team will consider the likely rain fall and its effects on watersheds.
  • The team will analyze and repair the damage caused by equipment, trucks, vehicles, dozer lines, helipads etc. used for suppression work. They will also focus on burn area rehabilitation and stabilization of area as a whole.
  • Analytical phase will take one week and begin on August 11th.
  • A hydrologist will be part of the team.
  • Satellite imagery will continue to be used to map out hot-spots and to identify which areas will be more prone to flooding.
  • Agency coordination will include; federal, state, local agencies and hydrologists etc.
  • The emergency plan in place is not the same as a FEMA emergency program.
  • In the interest of public safety there might be some road closures, and hazard warnings will be given.
  • John Bradford, BAER team member representing the Forrest Service will lead the effort to stabilize and rehabilitate forest area.

Robert Clyburn, our representative from the Office of Emergency Services (OES) stated that he will continue to coordinate and liaise with emergency services and the community at large.

Caltrans has a contract open within 12 watersheds where they see problems concerning culverts.

Assistance Available:

Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide technical assistance in order to assist in the preservation and protection around developments.

Emergency Watershed Protection Program is available in Monterey County to assist property owners via various agencies in the remediation and protection of private land. Grants are available whereby 75% of cost will be provided by federal agencies, and 25% of cost will be paid by home owner. Contact OES for further details.

Red Cross needs to find all property owners and renters who have suffered significant damage and do not have insurance. If you fall into this category please call the main chapter 2 at 831-624-6921.

Frank Pinney met with the Big Sur Land Trust today to work on a grant for fire suppression.

Coast Property Owners Association (CPOA) continues to play a significant role in coordinating donations and other offers for help for the community during this time. Gratitude was expressed for all their hard work and financial support to date.

Need for Volunteers:
Ventana Wilderness would like to hear from anyone willing to donate their time.
Please also follow links on http://www.surfire2008 for general community needs.
For further details regarding the community question and answer session following presentations please watch the video of the meeting.

Important: Big Sur Damage Assessment Requires Your Input

July 17, 2008

The Monterey County Office of Emergency Services is asking all Big Sur businesses, self-employed residents, and individuals who have sustained property damage to please fill out the following two forms as soon as possible and e-mail them to Rob Clyburn of the OES. The purpose of these forms is to gather as much data as possible on damages and losses due to the combined fires.

These are not applications for assistance, but are critical in determining how much assistance Big Sur will receive in the recovery efforts.

Form 1 – Business and Economic Impact Assessment – Excel Spreadsheet (For Business Owners and Self-Employed Residents)

Form 2 – Business or Residence Damage Survey – Microsoft Word Document (For Individuals and Businesses with property damage)

E-mail completed form(s) to Rob Clyburn at

This data is used by OES to request individual and business assistance for all who experienced a loss due to the fire. Personal data is not shared, and will only be accessed by relief agencies on an individual basis. For confidentiality, responses should be emailed direct to me. In the last few days a lot of work and coordination has been going on to help with the recovery process. Current updates are:

  • The State is awaiting a decision regarding whether FEMA is going to recommend declaring a full disaster for areas impacted by fires. Currently there is only an Emergency Declaration. If there is a presidential disaster declaration, this will open the door to additional assistance, both for public agencies and private individuals or businesses. If full FEMA assistance is not made available, the Small Business Administration has programs for individuals and businesses typically in the form of low-interest loans.
  • The County will establish a Local Assistance Center to serve those who were impacted by the fires. Because this shop will include federal, state, local and non-profit groups, we cannot begin operations until we have a decision on FEMA assistance. We ask that everyone continue to be patient and trust that we are doing all that we can. Due to decreased turn-out, we are no longer staffing The Grange, but are following up on all inquires regarding recovery and assistance. We ask that the community and impacted individuals continue to contact us if there are specific needs or agencies they would like to have represented at the assistance center. Tomorrow I will provide a draft list of current LAC agencies and groups for posting in order to give the community an idea of current agencies and services who are planned to participate. Only organizations with a current non-profit status may participate, but we can include a contact list for other groups who wish to do so.
  • The County is working hard to complete a Permit Plan that will address the process for those who need to rebuild or repair. As soon as the plan is completed it will be published to ensure widest dissemination.
  • We are also nearing completion on a Debris Removal Plan to assist in recovery efforts. A portion of the plan will address low-cost or no-cost debris removal and clean-up. The plan will be completed soon, in the interim we would like to ask residents to please be patient and avoid handling or removing debris.

Rob Clyburn, Monterey County OES

(831) 796-1902

Basin Complex East Information Links

July 13, 2008

Hello! I have been doing some researching to find good sources of information on the Basin Complex East. Thank you to people who have sent me links. If you have any other links to good information, please send them along! This is what I have found at this point:

This is someone attending fire meetings and writing up summaries and giving first hand accounts of what it is like to be in Jamesburg right now. Definitely the most information about the East side of the fire that I have found so far.

A good standby:

This is the official County of Monterey site. It gives good, brief, official information.

This is a non-official, but more detailed site that gives timely information along with thermal maps:

This seems to be an official federal site. If you scroll down about 3/4 of the way on this one there is some good information.

This is where I get my weather reports from. Go to the page, then type in your city and state in the box on the upper left hand side (not the right hand box, this does something else), and you can then narrow down your area. Then it will show you a map that you can click on to make your location and elevation even more accurate. Takes a bit of guess work with the elevation, but it works.

Information for Basin Complex Fire East

July 13, 2008

Hello! I know that people are looking for information about the East side of the Basin Complex Fire. I am too. I will post again when I have more information. Right now I am compiling a list of sites that have information on the active parts of the fire. If you know of any good sites, please contact me so I can include them in my list. I hate to say it, but the information I am finding is sparse.

I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for anyone on the East side of this fire. If there is anyone who is attending local fire meetings on the East side, I would implore you to write up the information that you are given for the benefit of others. If you need help setting up a blog to share this information, please contact me and I will help you. You can contact me by going to my blog

Saturday, July 12, 4:20PM

July 12, 2008

Got up early this morning and drove south to Esalen. There were some spot fires along the way but mostly pretty tame. Hot Springs Canyon is still smoldering. Here’s a photo taken this morning looking into Hot Springs Canyon.


Hot Springs Canyon above Esalen Institute

Hot Springs Canyon above Esalen Institute

At Esalen the stage was still set up on the grass for the 4th of July celebration that didn’t happen. Burns Creek still has some smoldering action going too. Now keep your fingers crossed for our friends on the eastern side of this fire who are really in the thick of it about now.

Fernwood has a bluegrass band from Santa Cruz tonight – Harmony Grits. Come on out.

Palo Colorado Fire Summary & Big News!

July 12, 2008

July 11th Palo Colorado Fire Meeting Summary

As of 6:00 am July 12th, our Evacuation Advisory will be lifted! Wahoo!!! Tonight was officially our last meeting. We can unpack and get some good sleep! Businesses are in the process of being inspected, roads are opening, Big Sur seems to be coming back!

There is a possibility of lighting this weekend, but if it comes, it is supposed to come with rain, so we should be okay. (See the bottom for full weather info.)

Today it was humid which kept the fire activity down. The RH (Relative Humidity) also kept back burning operations from moving very quickly. They have burned to Blue Rock Ridge. Fire fighters plan to back burn more tonight around 2:00 am when the RH should drop, allowing them to get a better burn.

The Basin Complex Fire is under Unified Command, with the Basin Complex Fire West under Cal Fire, Big Sur Brigade, and the Mid-Coast Brigade. The Basin Complex Fire East is under the control of Cal Fire and Cachagua Brigade. As the West side of the fire is contained, the camp at Molera State Park will be broken down, and engines will be de-mobilized.

To continue to be informed about the fire, you can call (831) 385-6954. Our Mid-Coast Brigade will also post up fire information at the mouth of Palo Colorado Canyon, the mailboxes at Garrapata, and at Bixby Canyon.

I will call the Basin Complex Fire East contact number and see if I can obtain enough information to write brief e-mails. I will post photos of the fire that I have not had time to post so far on

The Basin Complex Fire and the Indians Fire have officially burned into each other.

The fire burned through Tassajara, and we are told that two outbuildings were destroyed, but that the Zen Center is unharmed.

We were reminded to continue clearing. While the threat from the Basin Complex Fire has subsided, we are only at the beginning of fire season.

The county crew that was working so diligently on Palo Colorado Rd. was pulled by a higher up. They are the only crew for all of Monterey County. OES and others are working to get them back in, as they still have three miles of road to work on. The crew worked for four days, working in 12 hour shifts, and wanted to finish the job.

If they crew is not allowed to come back, we can start a phone calling and letter writing campaign. Let’s see if it can get worked out before it comes to that, but if not, we have all of the necessary information that we need to implore the county that our road needs to be made safe.

Tomorrow there will be another major clearing effort made on Greenridge. Please drive carefully and allow extra time. If you have any time or equipment, please come and help. If you live on Greenridge, please think about pitching in some money or help. They will need water, lunch, and ice cream never hurts.

On Sunday, the Farmer’s Market will run from 11:00-1:00 at Norm’s gate. Next week it will be back at it’s usually spot in front of the fire house.

If you have not yet paid you fire dues for the year, now is a great time. Each household is asked to contribute $200 a year.

Here is the latest on the weather, from NOAA:

Overnight: Widespread haze. Areas of smoke. Partly cloudy, with a steady temperature around 66. South wind around 8 mph.

Saturday: A chance of drizzle before 11am. Partly cloudy, with a high near 74. South southwest wind between 7 and 10 mph.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a steady temperature around 67. South southwest wind between 5 and 8 mph becoming calm.

Sunday: A slight chance of thunderstorms. Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, partly cloudy, with a high near 79. Calm wind becoming southwest between 4 and 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Sunday Night: A slight chance of thunderstorms before 11pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 62. West northwest wind between 3 and 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Monday: Sunny, with a high near 77.

Monday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, partly cloudy, with a low around 61.

Tuesday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 77.

Tuesday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly clear, with a low around 59.

Wednesday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 76.

Wednesday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly clear, with a low around 59.

Thursday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 75.

Thursday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly clear, with a low around 59.

Friday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 75.

As the danger of fire recedes for us, it is both time to celebrate, and time to think of our neighbors to the East who are now experiencing what we have experienced for the last week and a half. Let’s think of our friends in Carmel Valley, Cachagua, and Tassajara, and stay informed on their situation.

For us, though, it is time to both celebrate and to rebuild. T-shirts can be purchased at the fire house and at Local Color that commemorate the fire and raise money for the volunteer fire brigades.

This Saturday an auction will be held at The Big Sur Gallery, proceeds going to the Big Sur Fire Relief Fund. Local Big Sur artists have donated their work which will be auctioned off at 5:00pm. From 3:00 to 8:00 there will be viewings and refreshments.

On July 27th there will be a benefit show at Monterey Live, line-up to be announced.

And, of course, donations can be made directly to the Big Sur Fire Fund by sending checks to:

Coast Property Owners Association (CPOA)
PO Box 59
Big Sur, CA 93920
(note “fire relief” on checks).

Contributions may also be wired to the CPOA Big Sur Fire Relief Fund. To wire funds, contact Pam Peck 831 624-5418.

Donations can be made for the Mid-Coast Fire Brigade by sending a check to:
Mid-Coast Fire Brigade
Palo Colorado
Carmel, CA 93923
Donations are 501C3 tax deductible

While I am not grateful for the fire, I am grateful for how it has allowed me to get to know all of you much more closely. I hope to be able to find out more information about the fire for you, and if I do, I will send it along.

I would love to continue getting to know all of you and becoming part of this community. If anyone is interested in starting a meditation group, I would love it. I would be happy to host it at my home. While I am in no means a teacher, I was raised Tibetan Buddhist and  I deeply miss meditating with people in any meditation style. Please contact me if you are interested.

I look forward to seeing all of you at the Labor Day picnic!

7/11 – Last Big Sur Community Fire Meeting Notes

July 11, 2008

With an intimate little turnout, the meeting began with announcement that this will be our last fire meeting in Big Sur.

Mike Dietrich and the IC will be transitioning to another fire team on Monday. Mike D. introduced Mike Boone who will be replacing him and whose team will ensure the fire remains where it is, safely in containment lines.

The fire was a “happy fire” today – crews were able to bring fire all the way to the top of the northern containment lines before humidities came up and they had to stop burning operations for the moment.  When conditions are more favorable they will be able to burn all the way down to the Los Padres dam, sealing off the threat to Carmel Valley.

The area from Bottcher’s Gap to Devil’s peak will be complete by tomorrow morning which will tie up the Palo Colorado threat. (clapping!!)

There’s one little spot along Old Coast Road that is still being worked by crews.

The fire is still active down south in the southeast corner – it’s number one focus for the east side crew. The fire didn’t move today and fire line construction is under way.

The road is opening south of Coast Gallery on Sunday morning.

The Basin fire is not out – it’s still very active, though the west side is 90% contained.  The fire is just under the Observatory right now, but is laying down and they expect crews will save it.

The fire did burn through Tassajara and four outbuildings were lost, but everyone is safe.
Next steps are to continue burning the eastern line until the fire is fully contained.

Mike Boone who is coming in is a local guy who knows the area and his crew will be based out of Molera, eating at our restaurants, helping our economy and taking care of spot fires.

Spot fires are popping up and will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months. 99% of them will be benign. Please be very discerning when reporting a spot fire – only report true threats.

The local fire team will be downsizing significantly to 100-150 people starting Monday do clean up.  They hope to be at a point very soon where they’re not staffed during the evenings. 5-7 more days until they’re downsized further into a true rehab mode.

Sam Farr was at the meeting and had these messages to share:

Thanks for calling me with your concerns. I have brought pressure to get the road opened and we’re glad it worked.  Mike and Frank have been great through this and we’ve learned a lot. We passed a great bill this week to open up emergency funds for the forest service and fire fighting.  We’re working like crazy to get all the fires in California declared a national disaster so personal losses can use FEMA support.  Keep all your notes on expenditures made and track income lost!

I sponsored, and Congress unanimously adopted a resolution on Saturday to thank all the firefighters – a framed copy was given to Frank Pinney.

Lessons: we can do a way better job of mapping, we need local people to stay in and work as emergency personnel in this situation.  Let’s really take the lessons learned.  Make a note now, while it’s still fresh, of the things you think we could better do to prepare ourselves in the future.  We can be a model for how other communities do it.  Let’s turn this into a learning lesson and asset for all of us.

On to social service announcements, etc:

The Health Center is back in business full time – they will continue to provide free and discounted services to everyone who has been financially impacted by the fire.  More than 900 cases were treated by Health Center volunteers since this started, and they will continue to serve the firefighters on the new crew coming in to Molera.  Thank you Sharon!!

SPCA will have free pet food on Sunday between 10-2 at Fernwood.

CPOA is transitioning from a relief effort to a planning phase – determining next steps how to best assist the community get back on it’s feet.  Checks not yet picked up will be available at the Grange on Tuesday.

Rob at OES expects to have the damage assessment report done within the next week and half, and then we’ll have a “one-stop-shop” available to provide assistance in the rebuild.  Pick up and fill out a form from them at the Grange – it will tell you more about what services will be available when this is “shop” is open and help you define your needs.

The essential impact of this fire in Big Sur is currently estimated at $781 million – including environmental impact, lost business and property, etc.  This is huge, and we can also remember the hundreds of billions of dollars saved by this fire.

Acknowledgements, appreciations and team medallions were presented from Mike at the IC to Frank Pinney and Martha, as well as to Sharon Carey and Danielle Latta for medical support.

More certificates, team pins of appreciations or rounds of thanks were presented by the IC to Jeannie Alexander, John Farrington, Jess Mason, Cody Oliver, Penny Verigge, Barbara Ray Daughters, Sequoia Chappellet, Jaci Pappas, Leona in IC communications, the translator and Lisa Goettel.

As we speak there is a BAER team that is working on rehabilitation planning and will be working with CAL FIRE and the OES to mitigate landslides and the ongoing impact of this fire.

The CPOA and Chamber are actively working together right now, finding ways to rebuild the community. Frank is encouraging both groups to begin planning for road work etc. that will ensure our safety in the months to come.

KUSP will keep a web page up through the recovery efforts.

Northern Updates

July 11, 2008

If you are looking for additional information about the North flank of the fire, you can also read the Palo Colorado Updates. We are at the NW part of the fire and I update information about this section daily.

7/11 1pm: Updates from the north, south and eastern perimeters

July 11, 2008

In response to a number of questions about large plumes of smoke visible in the past couple days in the north, and reports of a line breech in the south, I did some digging around today and have some basic info below.

Please note that this news blog was created in response to a need for information specifically in the Big Sur community by Big Sur resident volunteers.  We recognize the Basin Complex fire is far from over and now threatens other areas – our heart and thoughts are with you! We (I) don’t have the resources, knowledge or capacity to keep the news flowing here for other geographic areas though, and other blogs are popping up to fill that gap. We will continue to post official news updates on the site throughout the fire.  For official information on what’s happening on the northern line, please call 831-622-0825. For the eastern and southern areas, please call 831-656-3963. Thanks!

As of 1pm 7/11:

In the north, the fire has reached the original dozer line by Devil’s Peak and there are backfiring operations happening all along Devil’s Peak east toward Los Padres Reservoir. There have been large islands of fuels burning in these areas, causing dramatic plumes of smoke, but as of this afternoon there are NO reports of the fire having crossed the original dozer line.

Regarding the Cone Peak area – there was a 500 acre slop over the fire line. The fire crossed over Arroyo Seco trail. Since that time they have received lots of air support and as of this afternoon they feel confident this area is now controlled.

Reports on the ground down south today are reporting that Dolan ridge looks quiet, and there are no visible plumes from upper Devil’s canyon.

Highway 1 Opens tonight, 6:00 PM Fri. 11 July

July 11, 2008

Hello Big Sur!

The opening is beginning. Tonight at 6:00 PM (Officially) Highway 1 will open from Palo Colorado Road to Coast Gallery – no restrictions, no mumbo jumbo. 

Sunday, July 13 at 8:00 AM Highway 1 will be open clear through from Carmel to San Simeon.

Explanation: This morning I had word about this opening. I posted it. Minutes later Caltans released a press release that contradicted my information. I’m glad to report that we had it correct. Caltrans is now correcting their press release. Unofficially, the northern section may be open before 6:00 PM but officially, at the latest its 6:00 PM tonight.

Caltrans is correcting their press release and I will forward that through our channels as soon as we get it. scoops one more time.

Update from Local Fire Fighter for July 11th

July 11, 2008

Hi! I just got this

“Good Morning,
Got a good nights sleep last night thanks to fire fighter Nick going to 6 AM briefing this morning. Just got off the phone with him. Things appeared to be going well overnight. The areas we refer to as Div. AA and BB (basically from Bottchers Gap to the coast) are holding well and now they are in pure mop up mode. Div. CC, Bottchers to Big Pines has been back burned, there are concerns about unburnt islands of fuel in this area and I would be very surprised if we did not see some more big columns of smoke coming from that area today. No new information on the continuing burn out operation between Big Pines and H-29 (sort of the center of Danish Creek), but no news usually is good news or at least not bad news. The winds are set to shift today from NW to SW, though only 5-10 mph. That should not be too bad for us. We are not in the clear yet, there is still the possibility of one of these islands burning hot and causing spotting over the line, but I feel much, much better today than I have in the last week. So stay prepared, but very optimistic as we move hopefully into the last few days of this fire posing a major risk to our little community.
Rested and smiling,

July 10th Palo Colorado Fire Meeting Summary

July 11, 2008

(Hi! If you want to see photos or comment on this, go to

We continue to be under evacuation advisory with a soft close on our road.

Hello, Palo Colorado! Today was a particularly interesting day for me, as I spent it volunteering at the Mid-Coast Fire Station. I loved getting to know the fire fighters more closely, and at the meeting we all seemed to be feeling gratitude for their hard work. As Scott announced each of them, they received a hearty round of applause. The CPOA is looking into supporting the fire fighters who have all had to take leaves from their paid jobs to volunteer their time to protect us.

Again, I encourage everyone who can, to please donate money or volunteer time, and many of you have. Many of you have not, however, paid your fire dues for the year. We are all asked to pay $200 a year in fire dues. If you have not paid you dues, please do as soon as you can. To make donations, please send them to:

Mid-Coast Fire Brigade
Palo Colorado
Carmel, CA 93923
Donations are 501C3 tax deductible

Onto the real news:

Today we saw a large plume of smoke that emanated from “The Saddle” next to Devil’s Peak. While this was quite dramatic, it was inside of containment lines and is what they refer to as an “island.” The thought is that the heat that has been sitting there for so long finally dried out the materials and they all caught fire causing a large amount of burning.

This must have been quite dramatic in Carmel Valley and Cachagua. We were told that they are in the situation that we were in about a week ago, meaning that the fire is advancing in their direction, and they are racing to back burn before the fire advances too far. Back burning operations continue to go well, and they hope to finish before the fire meets the dozer lines.

Today they finished back burning to H-28 which is Big Pines. Tonight they plan to continue to back burn to H-29 which is about 2 miles East. This is difficult terrain, and a relatively dangerous burn for the fire fighters, as the fire is moving uphill in the area, which means it burns faster. The back burn will be handled by a hot shot crew.

Many of us saw helicopters today. They were being filling drop buckets by using a “pumpkin” which is a portable water basin. The pumpkin was located just behind the fire house, which is why so many people saw and heard the activity.

The fire moved through Tassajara today. There was no structural damage, and the fire burned around the Zen Center.

We continue to be in red flag warnings for weather. We hope to be out of the red flag warning soon, although this will probably hold for the higher elevations for a while. There is talk of thunderstorms. There is a 20% chance of storms here, but they would come from the East to the West, which is less of a threat.

Here is the weather outlook, courtesy of NOAA.

Overnight: Clear, with a steady temperature around 67. Southwest wind between 3 and 6 mph.

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 75. Southwest wind between 6 and 9 mph.

Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 60. South southwest wind between 5 and 8 mph.

Saturday: Partly cloudy, with a high near 76. South southwest wind between 5 and 8 mph.

Saturday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 58. South wind between 3 and 8 mph.

Sunday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 76.

Sunday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 55.

Monday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 74.

Monday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 53.

Tuesday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 71.

Tuesday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 54.

Wednesday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 72.

Wednesday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 54.

Thursday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 72.

We were told that the wilderness will be closed for quite a while. There is still fire activity, and we will continue to see hot spots and islands flare up for a while. The wilderness may not be able to re-open until it rains.

We were reminded that when this is all over, we will be a small island of fuel, and that we must continue to be diligent in our clearing and maintenance.

Phil Yenovkian of OES came and told us that the county crew that had been clearing the road was taken out as we are competing for resources, but that they will be back. OES is working to get grants to continue this clearing.

Jerri told us that the maps are looking good, and that she will be using a GPS device to mark the exact location of each of our homes. She will call ahead, but will need to come onto each of our properties to take the GPS reading. She will start on Greenridge and lower Greenridge. We are reminded that these maps will remain confidential.

Finally, we were told that once this fire merges with the Indians Fire (which it may have already) and all is said and done, they expect that 250,00 acres will have burned. This will be the largest fire in California’s history. That is a record I hope I never see broken.

pulled the post about highway

July 11, 2008

I just pulled the post about the highway opening. There is no doubt the highway is opening very soon but I just received another document with a conflicting time. I will post this ASAP when I get together with Caltrans and discuss their press release.


Big Sur Valley, July 10, 11PM

July 10, 2008

The businesses in the ‘business district’ of Big Sur are approaching normal. The air quality is good and we’re seeing the possibility of the opening of Highway 1 in the very near future.

As evidenced by the Los Padres National Forest evening report on the fire (8,907 acres burned in the last 12 hours) we still have a very active fire burning and at this rate we will clear 100,000 acres burned by sunrise on Friday. Earlier posts noted Tassajara survived the burn today and it looks like they’re going to be okay too.

I drove into Pfeiffer State Park to see if the softball field was okay and I spoke with C.L. Price to see if we could get the softball league started on Monday. Looks like we’re going to have to wait until next week to get the league restarted. While I was at the park I took a photo of a plume of smoke rising over Mt. Manuel and later from a different angle you can see there is an active fire out behind Double Cones.

Another angle of the plume showing Double Cones – shot from Post Ranch Inn later in the day.


I spoke with John Bradford from the Forest Service today to see if we can expedite the opening of Pfeiffer Beach. He is trying to hurry-up the process. We should know by Friday. Another subject I brought up was the obvious issue of erosion we will be facing come winter and what will be done in advance to minimize the inherit dangers. To that, BAER, the Burn Area Emergency Rehabilitation team will be back soon to conduct an analysis and to create a rehabilitation plan. The team was already here once but it was too hot to go in and do the analysis. 

Tonight I watched the fog make its way up the Big Sur valley from Andrew Molera and also rise up Sycamore Canyon, backing up again Pfeiffer Ridge until it poured over the top of Sycamore Canyon into Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. It was a beautiful site and I can only imagine this soft moisture gently riding up on the canyon walls can only do good to the freshly burned areas. One tiny droplet of fog at a time, the rebirth begins.

And one last thing. The other night Angie came up and baked the most beautiful Apple Pie and we ate it in solidarity and in honor of our neighbors up on Apple Pie Ridge who successfully defended their property against this fire. Kodiak Greenwood who was one of the detained (not arrested) people and a local photographer has already sold images to National Geographic Magazine (I’ve been told) and some of his images from this ordeal will be in the Carmel Pine Cone this Friday, July 11.

I post this picture in honor of our neighbors on Apple Pie Ridge and the 4th of July wherein we should have been painting our faces like flags, wearing cowboy hats and eating bbq’d corn on the cob in preference to standing vigil against this fire.

Thank you Angie for the great Apple Pie. And yes, it was ala mode – hand made white chocolate ice cream from the freezer at Sierra Mar, thank you very much!