7/6 9pm: Tonight’s Meeting

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Notes from tonight:

From Mike Dietrich, Incident Commander:

  • It was a great day!
  • We began backfiring south of Palo Colorado Canyon towards Bixby Canyon. They intend to continue the burning and get it to the Old Coast Highway tonight.
  • Fire made it to the boy scout camp and the fire line held. The camp is secure.
  • We’re very close to getting the northern line to the Little Sur River.
  • There was a little bit of burning inside Big Sur today. Crews are looking at trees that are a hazard and mopping up hot spots along the highway.
  • The line is holding at Dolan Ridge. Dolan had seven residences at risk – teams led the fire down around them and they pulled off a tremendous save. Everyone and everything is safe.
  • Plans for tomorrow and the next couple days: continue mopping up inside Big Sur and securing the area. Working Bottchers Gap to Dani Ridge tomorrow – if this is successful we’ll be able to close the door on the Palo Colorado threat.
  • Next piece (2-3 days out) is to begin burning along the old Marble Cone line at the north end of the fire. The DC-10 and the Martin Mars (Super Scooper) are working there.
  • Current strategy with limited resources is to box things out, work in specific areas then move on to the next hot spot.

From Frank:

  • There was a flare up on Partington today, an area we thought was cooled down. It was on the south slope just below one of the houses that had been saved and the fire wanted to move west, which would be a bad thing. A Brigade engine jumped on it and knocked it down while it was easily manageable. (Lots of clapping.)
  • The Brigade finished their gelling operation and have gelled 54 structures.
  • Re-entry is now at the top of the list and in the planning phase. There is a member of the OES (Office of Emergency Services) team from Monterey County working with Frank on this. “We are working on the first phase that will get us the ability to do infrastructure repair and make it safe for residents to return. The fire is still cooking out there and there are lots of hot spots that will need to be taken into consideration as we start fixing things (laying plastic pipe for instance, would melt right now if it was laid down in some places.) The sheriff is extremely anxious to be as collaborative as he can possibly be with us in this process.” This planning will take everything into consideration, including the possibility of returns for in-and-out visits (get stuff, insurance specs), and those who are in areas that have not burned or lost infrastructure.
  • No more structures have been lost.

Q&A Answers:

  • Frank: There have been two phases of the mandatory evacuation. The first phase gave residents an option to sign a waiver and stay. When the fire got more intense, the sheriff’s office upgraded the evacuation to say that anyone who stayed was subject to arrest. The sheriff’s have been working with us to interpret this for the benefit of the community. I recognize that the evacuation zone has the appearance now of being a “prison” of sorts to people who have stayed. But this is not the intention and the people who have stayed have been extremely cooperative with us – so given the circumstances, tomorrow will be another day and we’ll look at all the options available.
  • Gel questions: Ask questions or come get a Q&A sheet on the gel from Sharon Torrence. (Will post this sheet on the SurFire2008.org site in the Notices section tomorrow.)
  • Frank: Residents who are still in Big Sur: If there’s a flare-up that’s a true threat and it’s after hours, please call 911. Please use discretion. We’ve been called out for a couple stumps in burned out areas that were not a threat and we have limited resources.
  • Mike: There will be a substantial heating and drying weather pattern coming in, moderate offshore flow Monday-Wed. with the potential for thunderstorms (and lightning) Thursday and Friday.
  • Frank: Houses are gelled on Pfeiffer and things are looking very good there.
  • Mike: Near Tassajara the fire has only moved about ¼ mile today and there is air support to keep it moving as slowly as possible toward the Tassajara area.
  • Backburning did not happen as planned off the highway near Esalen today, but they hope to begin tonight if the conditions are right – going from Anderson Canyon south to Hot Springs Canyon.
  • We have the DC-10 now but it could be moved down to the Gap fire. The super scooper will stay here in the area to use as we need.
  • Not every residential area will be represented at tomorrow’s re-entry meeting. We’re doing a scaled down group of reps, including three members of the community.

Rob, a rep from the OES was at the meeting and spoke about plans for re-entry.  I took lots of notes on this too, but am clarifying and checking info with him again before I post that.  It will be posted tomorrow.

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