Updates from Palo Colorado Canyon


July 6th, 2008

3:00 pm

Hello! I hope everyone in the Big Sur community is staying safe and being vigilant. Thank you to everyone in the greater community for your interest and support.

My name is Tara Wings and I live in Palo Colorado Canyon. For those not from Big Sur, we are located on Highway 1, just North of where the Highway is (as this point) closed to all non-emergency traffic. Our road has a soft close on it, meaning that only Palo Colorado residents and emergency workers can come through. Please do not attempt to access the road if you do not live here, as you will not be allowed in without Palo Colorado ID or a special permit.

I have been writing summaries of the nightly Mid-Coast Fire meetings at our fire house in Palo Colorado and sending them to our neighborhood e-mail list. I thought that this information may be helpful for those in the greater community.

I do not have any special knowledge of fire activity or plans. I do not have any extra contacts with Unified Command. I merely take detailed notes during our meetings and attempt to rearticulate the information in an approachable and understandable way.

Please understand that I am new to this area and do not actually know first hand where many of the specific locations are that I am writing about, let alone how to spell them. I very well may get things wrong, but I always err on the side of leaving something out rather than putting up mis-information. Please write to the webmaster if you find an error. The entire point of this is to put out accurate information, and I would love your help in doing so.

The only reason that I am able to share this information with you is because of the wonderful, local Mid Coast Fire Brigade who has kept all operations and plans so transparent with us. They are part of our community and are fighting for us. They live here and are the reason that we in Palo Colorado have been allowed to stay for this long. We are trusting them with our homes, land, and lives, and I would not to put that trust in anyone other than the brave locals that make up the Mid Coast Brigade.

One more word on these summaries. I have originally written them for the residents of Palo Colorado Canyon and that is still their primary purpose. Throughout the post you will find references to phone numbers that are included at the bottom of the e-mail that I send to our neighborhood. These numbers will be deleted from the general post.

While I would love to have the time and energy to write a separate post just for this blog which could be more explanatory for those who do not live in Big Sur or the Canyon, I do not. I will try to set up a separate blog that includes photos.

I hope this helps. Please consider donating to the Big Sur Fire Fund, by sending a check to 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.

There are many of us who are out of work, out of home, and out of luck. For everyone in Big Sur and the Canyon, my heart is with all of you!

July 5th 2008, Palo Colorado Fire Meeting Summary

Once again, there have been some major changes in the way they will approach tackling this fire. During the day, there was more fire activity than they had previously expected. This means that the fire moved closer to us faster than they thought it would. Before, when the fire was moving slowly, they had time and the ability to go direct on the fire. Also, the weather predicts that the winds will begin to come in from the East starting Tuesday. At this point the winds are still with us. Because the fire has come closer and they want to be extra safe, they plan to start back burning Sunday between 10:00 and 11:00 am. (This morning.)

This means that we will all see smoke and some of us will see flames. There are some homes that will have very close views of the back burn. If we ever feel unsafe, we are asked to calmly leave. Because there will be extra fire vehicles on the road, we are asked to drive with extreme caution.

If we can stay off the road entirely tomorrow, this would be best. If we can, let’s stay home, give them the road, let them do their job and help them protect us.

There will not be an automatic mandatory evacuation when they start the back burn. There is, however, always the possibility that they will need us to evacuate. We should all be ready to go, in case we have to. If we were told to leave, they would do a staggered evacuation as previously detailed. Those living up on Garrapatos Rd and King Rd should use the Glendeven Ranch exit which will be marked with pink flags and a sign that says “emergency route.”

If we need to evacuate, the SPCA is here to help us. If you have large animals please call them to alert them. Their number is at the bottom of this e-mail.

(Ok, I hope I get all of this next part right because this is a lot of information. Please please please correct me if I am wrong on any details. I may miss things. I don’t want anyone to see fire activity that I did not detail here and think that something is wrong. I do not have any special knowledge of what should or should not be happening. When I am writing my notes, if I am unclear on anything I err on the side of not putting something in, rather that giving out false information. So please don’t expect for all fire activity to be previewed here. We should all be trusting the situation, but staying alert.)

The plan with the back burn is that they are going to come at it hard with everything they’ve got. The strategy is to start tomorrow between 10:00 am and 11:00 am at Skinner Ridge. They will have two teams positioned in two different places who will work to come together to secure Bottchers Gap. Securing Bottchers Gap will put us all in a much more secure place.

They plan to take the back burn down Bixby Ridge to Coast Rd, and I believe they said they will go just South of Chapman Ranch Rd. (I have no idea where that is, so please excuse me if that doesn’t make sense.)

There will be a lot of activity in the skies. There will be a lot of helicopters and fixed wing support. We expect to see the DC-10 back again. (The DC-10 was here today and dropped fire retardant on Bixby Mountain.) This operation will be a high priority in the larger picture of the whole Basin Complex Fire, so we can expect to see a lot of support tomorrow.

The operation will be going on all day into the evening. If they need to keep working at night, they will.

Do not expect to see any crews up on Longridge tomorrow.

They expect to fire the boyscout camp.

They expect there to be spotting. They expect the fire to break containment lines at specific places and they expect to be able to combat this.

Let’s all put our thoughts with the fire fighters.

We then talked about access to Palo Colorado Rd.

There continues to be a soft close on Palo Colorado Rd. This means that only people who live here, emergency personnel, and workers who have been given special clearance may come through. Starting tomorrow, we expect CHP to be more strict at the mouth of the road.

What this means for us is that we are all asked to show proof of residence. This could take the form of an ID like a license that says a Palo Colorado address. Also acceptable would be a tax form, a lease, a rental agreement, a utility bill, etc. Any type of official form that somehow links your name to Palo Colorado. If for some reason, you do not have any of these documents (like me) you are to see Cheryl at the meeting tomorrow. Bring your license and you will be issued a Palo Colorado Access Permit. Do not loose this, as Cheryl is only allowed to issue one per person.

Again, the permit from Cheryl is only necessary if you have somehow hit the perfect storm (like me), where you do not own property here, carry a license from somewhere else, receive mail at a P.O. Box, do not pay utilities, and do not have a rental agreement. If you have proof of any of these things linking you to Palo Colorado, they are sufficient to show at the mouth of the road, and you do not need a permit from Cheryl.

We then talked about the fire activity that was seen today.

The fire line continued up Uncle Sam Mountain to Little Pines, into the Little Sur Drainage, around the boyscout camp. (I hope I got that right.) A DC-10 dropped fire retardant on Bixby Mountain. It was quite spectacular.

(David took a great photo of this. I wanted to send this to all of you in a separate e-mail but we have packed the camera cable! I will send it along when we find it and when we do not need to be cautious about overloading the DSL.)

It was explained that this and many of the fires in California are so large right now because we continue to keep the fires from burning out the dead trees (because we live among them) and therefore as time goes by the fuel load continues to increase. This is why clearance is so important. Because we have been doing such a good job clearing, we are in much better shape if one day this or another fire hits us. We must continue to be vigilant with our clearing. We need to continue clearing on personal property, which includes the sides of the main road.

We were told that while the fire in Santa Barbara is large (at the meeting is was announced that 5,000 people have been evacuated) we have not lost any personnel to that fire.

We were told that to further prepare for the fire, we should cover any plastic windows, plastic skylights, drafty woodstoves, or vents that lead to outside with aluminum foil and duct tape. This is to prevent any melting plastic and any embers from getting into the house.

There was more discussion in relation to Thermo-Gel. There were questions about taking off window screens or leaving them on when applying Thermo-Gel. This is being figured out and should be answered tomorrow. We were told that if we want Thermo-Gel, we can call Cliff Wong. (see number at the bottom the e-mail.)

We were told that there are more free storage PODS that have been dropped off for our use. They are located at Rio Rd in front of the Chevron. If you want to use a POD, you need to bring your own lock (I have two extras that I bough for people- I can bring them to the meeting) and call Alex (see bottom). Remember to write down the number of your POD.

We were invited to come to a U-Pick at the Eichorn’s tomorrow. It is suggested that we carpool or walk. There will be no farmer’s market.

Jan said that she can bring back the workers who have been doing such good work in the neighborhood. Please call her before 8:00am. (See the bottom for her number.) We are reminded to pay them their full $12/hr and to pay the driver for gas. We are always encouraged to tip. Please provide extra water as it is expected to get hot.

We are reminded that even though the DSL has picked up some speed, to refrain from over loading it with large files, such as photos. Let’s make sure we can all get the info we need tomorrow and send pictures on Monday.

I would like to also suggest that everyone be extra cautious at night with themselves and their pets. There are a lot of animals displaced by this fire. At least on my property, we have been hearing a lot of night-time animal action.

After the meeting there was an extra exciting piece of news. Allegro Pizza in the Barnyard would like to give a discount to anyone with a Palo Colorado ID. Please don’t hesitate in getting me a slice.

I hope to see you all at the meeting tomorrow!


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