7/8 12am: Tonight’s Community Meeting – Big News!

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Thanks thanks thanks to Linda Rowland-Jones who took tonight’s minutes:

Minutes for community meeting 7/7/08 — Carmel Middle School
Lori Iverson / Fire information
Mike Dietrich / IC
Frank Pinney / BSVFB
Robert Clayburn / OES

It was a really big group at CMS tonight, probably 200 people. Hotline now has translation services. A big round of applause was given to hot line workers. Hot line workers are asking for volunteers to help out, they’re exhausted.

Current status:
Basin West update—

It was a very busy last day and night, with firefights into the wee hours of the morning. From 11:30 pm on there was 25-35 mph down canyon wind, but the fire stopped short of Old Coast Highway, with crews scrambling until 4am. The good news is the larger fuels are burning out, and the backburns have been more successful, and worked faster than expected.
From Mt. Manuel to Pfeiffer State park the area is secure, while on the north crews continue to expand line from Los Padres Dam to Skinner’s Ridge. The red line indicates a burn ¼ to ½ mile from the Old Coast Highway in an effort to try to secure the northwest corner of the fire to prevent the fire from reaching Palo Colorado. (The red lines on the map are where the fire is still active, the black where they’re confident that all is much better, or “secure”.) From Ventana to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park the fire is looking “stable.”

The same down canyon wind a blessing in the south front of the fire; IC is confident that we’ll be secure on the southwest part of the fire by Tuesday night or Wed. However, there is still active heat to the south at this time.

Basin East update—
They are trying to connect w/ the Indians fire, securing the whole southwest piece of fire. Above the Tassajara drainage the fire moved east today, into the Uncle Sam Mountain area. IC will continue to monitor the weather to secure the area around Devil’s Mtn.; they hope to close the door on northern piece at Palo Colorado. In the north east the fire is not yet contained.

From Julia Pfeiffer south to Lucia still there is still mandatory evacuation due to fire activity and back burns. South of Lucia the mandatory evacuation order has been lifted. While the fire is not over, it is still a hot fire burning in grey and black areas, progress has been made.

There was an important meeting today involving the Monterey County Sheriff, BSVFB Chief Pinney, and representatives from county and state government including US Congressman Sam Farr, Supervisor Dave Potter as well as community leaders from Big Sur. The IC has re-evaluated mandatory evacuation orders.

There is an evacuation advisory still in effect for Palo Colorado Road.
The checkpoint at intersection of Palo Colorado road and Highway One remains the same.
The mandatory evacuation from Palo Colorado road to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park has been downgraded to an advisory evacuation, effective tomorrow, Tuesday July 8, at 10am.
This news was met with whoops and sobs from the crowd. After the meeting people embraced, laughed and cried. We get to go home!

Residents and critical service workers (PGE, phone etc.) will be allowed into Big Sur with proper identification. Passes for ridge road access for residents EAST OF HIGHWAY ONE with local identification for (driver’s license, utility bill, etc.) will be distributed at the Multi-agency Facility in Big Sur from 10am to noon tomorrow. This is not a re-entry, which involves implementing a lot of services completely. Fire activity could give cause for a return to mandatory evacuation at some point in time. It will be a give and take situation working with the firefighters and law enforcement, since the fire is still active up on the hills, which will be true for the next several weeks, possibly months.

The community will collaborate with firefighters and law enforcement to protect property, and there may be road closures in this process. There will be rocks, debris and fire crews on the road. It’s important to drive safely and slowly. This is an adjustment in the operational plan, not full re-entry yet. There will be barricades on the east side of Highway One on the ridges. Law enforcement will work in partnership with the community, and they are working towards a reentry plan with other community agencies.

Serious public health and safety concerns still exist in Big Sur. With the advisory activation, the primary focus will be on those areas with known damage; and the OES will bring in every possible resource to fix those problems. They will establish a fire assistance center to respond to initial questions on repair services, etc., location to be determined. The next step will be to establish a full local assistance center, with different service agencies represented. This is a small victory which won’t immediately translate into benefits. But OES will continue to push for a management assistance grant, for federal and state resources and funding to provide services.

Good news, we are progessing towards reentry and recovery! Tomorrow’s community meeting will be at the MAF in Big Sur at 7pm.

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