Palo Colorado Fire Summary for July 7th & Big News for Big Sur

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(If you would like to see photos of the fire activity in Palo Colorado Canyon or comment on my postings, please visit tarawings.wordpress.com. Thank you!)

Tonight’s meeting brought good news for Big Sur.

As of 10:00 am July 8th, many of our friends to the South can go home. The evacuation from the mouth of our road to Julia Pfeiffer Burns will be changed from a Mandatory Evacuation to an Evacuation Advisory. In the same area, the hard road closure will become a soft road closure, meaning that residents presenting local ID or Big Sur Passes and emergency personnel are allowed on the road.

There is still a Mandatory Evacuation and hard road close from Julia Pfeiffer Burns to Lucia.

The next community meeting for Big Sur residents will occur at 7:00 pm back in the Multi Agency Facility. Our meetings continue to be held at the Mid Coast Fire Station.

Residents of Big Sur should still be advised that the evacuation could become mandatory if fire activity changes. It is not yet time to bring everything home and start unpacking. There is still fire activity, and if the area is deemed unsafe, the evacuation will become mandatory again. Let’s all hope that doesn’t happen.

I am not sure at this point what businesses and services will be opened or closed. Residents should check the “Notices” section of http://www.surfire2008.org to see what businesses have posted hours of operation.

We are all advised to be cautious while driving on the roads. Many animals are being displaced due to the fire, and there has been a lot of animal activity on the roads and on properties. With an influx of people back down South, everyone should drive with extreme caution to prevent and accident.

Also, please err on the side of caution when allowing household pets outside. (Personally, I only let my animals out in full sun, and at times of heavy animal activity, only on leash.)

Onto Palo Colorado News

In Palo Colorado, we continue to be under evacuation advisory with a soft close on the road. Emergency workers and residents with Palo Colorado ID’s, Special Permits issued by Cheryl, or any proof of residence such as a utility bill, tax form, rental agreement, etc. may access the road.

If you have a worker coming into Palo Colorado, you may meet them at the mouth of the road and escort them in.

We were told that we will still be under Evacuation Advisory until all dozer lines are in, all lines are back burned, and the winds are with us. Because each of those factors are contingent upon other outlying factors, at this point we can not know when we will be back to normal. For now and at least through the weekend, we must still be ready to evacuate.

Due to the heat and extreme conditions under which our brave women and men are fighting this fire, two fire fighters were effected by heat stroke and needed to be given medical attention. Our thoughts are with them, and we hope to get an update of their conditions tomorrow.

Jake detailed the back burning operation, which continued to go well and according to plan. Fire fighters worked until 4:30 am. Due to good burning conditions, they were able to get a lot of black on the ground. There were various spot fires, but all were contained. The fire made runs along (Old) Coast Rd and fire fighters had to fight to keep this under control, which they did.

The did not finish firing today, because the (Old) Coast Rd road gave them so much trouble. They will not put any more fire on the ground until this section of back burning is finished and the weather is with us. They were not able to use aerial support today because of the amount of smoke.

When they are able to begin more back burning, they will finish along Skinner Ridge and Devil’s Peak. At this point, there are two fixed observers with a dozer waiting and watching this part of the open line.

We were given a personalized weather report from Scott. Beginning Tuesday morning, we are under a Red Flag Warning. This means that there will be extremely low relative humidity, high temperatures, winds, and dry fuels, all of which come together to be a hazardous situation for fire.

Now through Thursday they expect with N/NW winds. A high pressure system will move over the area bringing light, off shore winds, although we may see some gusts. This pressure system is expected to move out Friday or Saturday. They expect very hot temperatures through Friday. There is a 60% chance that on Friday or Saturday winds will shift and come from the South, although these winds are not supposed to be strong.

Scott expressed that it is very unlikely we will have thunderstorms, even though some news programs have had talk of thunderstorms. While they have occurred under these conditions in the past, this is a freak weather occurrence and is not likely.

We are reminded that it is hard to predict our weather and fire activity due to our many microclimates. The way the fire moves will depend on if it is slope driven or driven by the weather.

Cheryl fielded questions from the community and talked about the contingency plans. A contingency plan continues to be worked out involving White Rock and Wild Cat. I am not 100% clear on the details of this plan, and will report back tomorrow with specifics.

We were told that they think the fire will burn to containment lines. This means that they expect most of the forest to burn. They plan to defend Tassajara and will spot fire around it in preparation. They feel confident in being able to secure Tassajara.

We were told that when fire lines are made, the fire break cut by the dozer is two blades thick. When the area is back burned, they get it to at least 30 feet, then feed the fire into canyons and further along, getting as much black on the ground as possible, while still controlling the fire.

We were reminded that when all of this is over, we must be vigilant with our property and road clearance, and we must come together to work on the Mid Coast Fire Station. Right now, the Mid Coast Fire Station needs volunteers to answer the phones. Peter and Janie donated payers to the Mid Coast Fire Station. Any help is welcome.

We are reminded that while the back burning operation continues to go well, there are many dead trees and brush in the canyon which would pose a large threat if a fire were to reach the canyon. We are reminded that they hope this does not happen in relation to the Basin Complex Fire, but as we saw in October, a fire could happen in the canyon without warning at any time, and we must be ready.

We were joined by a local who is the Military and Veterans Affairs Commissioner for the 5th District. The 5th district includes Big Sur, Carmel, Carmel Valley, and Monterey. We were told that Dave Potter, the 5th District County Supervisor, is working with the rest of his office and the Coast Property Owners Association to plan for recovery when this is all over. They want to help and support us.

On Saturday there will be a benefit to support the fire relief fund being headed up by the CPOA. The benefit is on Saturday at The Big Sur Gallery in the Barnyard. There will be an auction of paintings and sculptures all created and donated by local Big Sur artists. From 3:00pm until 8:00pm there will be refreshments outside on the patio, weather permitting. The auction (officiated by Magnus of the Henry Miller Library) will begin at 5:00pm. You may also donate directly to the fire relief fund. For more information, please visit bigsurgallery.net or call 831-624-1172.

I hope you are all well and dreaming of rain.

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