July 8th Palo Colorado Fire Summary

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July 8th, 2008 Palo Colorado Fire Meeting Summary

Today was a smoky, smoky day. We all experienced this at home, and it was a tactical challenge for our fire fighters. Cheryl told us that in the field, it was hard to see two feet in front of you.

In addition to smoke, the fire fighters were hit with heat, with the temperatures hitting 100 degrees on the field.

We were told that the fire fighters who were struck with heat stroke are now okay, but that three more fire fighters had to be taken off of the field for various reasons. The heat on the line is intense, and fire fighters are also coming into contact with a lot of poison oak and having reactions, as well as with insects such as bees.

We were told of a fire fighter who had come in from Colorado to help us. During an operation, she was hiking and suffered injuries related to a pre-existing muscular illness. She was taken back home and needed serious surgery.  They hope to save her legs, but are not sure that she will walk again, let alone be able to return to the field. We will be updated on her condition tonight, and will receive an address to send cards.

Because of the thick smoke, aircraft support could not be utilized until 3:30, when some of the smoke began to clear.

While the smoke delayed and hampered some operations, the fire fighters will still able to do good work, and continued tying in Little Sur. After 3:00 they were able to start backfiring up on Skinner, and tonight (July 8th) they plan to work up to the top of Devil’s Peak.

They worked Skinner Ridge to Bottcher’s Gap and while the fire made some runs, fire fighters were able to hold the line. We were told that when they say the fire “bumped the line” it means that it burned right up to containment lines.

At times of low visibility, it is hard to see headers popping up, and hard to get a grasp on the nature of the fire  inside of containment lines until the smoke has cleared.

They utilized the FLIR which stands for Forward Looking Infrared Radar to detect hot spots and thermal activity. (I just found this: http://www.iecinfrared.com/glossary.html)

We were told that the NE flank of the fire continues to steadily move, but at this point is not a threat to us. At the South flank of the fire they continue to create containment lines and we hear that it is looking good.

Fire fighters feel confident that they can hold the lines that they have built, and as the smoke continues to clear, they will be able to put more fire on the ground and fortify dozer lines.

We were told that some of the black lines are beginning to get cold, which means that they should hold up very well. DP 44-46 seems quite cold. The firing line from two days ago looks good, and the burn on Bixby Mountain looks very good.

We continue to have a red flag warning for fire conditions. We were reminded that while this means that the fire burns faster, this can prove helpful in getting a good back burn. Slight winds can clear smoke out of the canyon, allowing fire fighters to have better visibility and the ability to utilize air support. A high ignition component can be dangerous in a general sense as it means that fires light easily, but it also means that back burns will light well. Yesterday the ignition component was a record of 95, which means that if you drop 100 matches into dry grass, 95 of them would start a fire.

Here is the weather report  as of 10:30 pm last night courtesy of NOAA and Fred along with instructions of how to track the weather on NOAA yourself to get up to the minute info:

Overnight: Areas of smoke. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72. West southwest wind around 10 mph.

Wednesday: Areas of smoke before 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 90. Southwest wind 10 to 14 mph becoming north northwest.

Wednesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 77. North wind between 7 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 86. North wind between 6 and 8 mph.

Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. North northwest wind around 8 mph.

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 80.

To track the weather yourself:

1. Go to http://www.wrh.noaa.gov
2. Type in “Carmel, ca”
3. Pick “Carmel by the sea”
4. Click around about 10 miles south and inland
5. When you get one you like (firehouse is about 900 ft elevation), you can save the URL so that you don’t  have to do all of the steps next time.

We were visited by a representative from OES, the Office of Emergency Services. His name is Phil Yenovkian and he provided us with his office and cell phone numbers (see bottom). He will be at our meetings every night and wants to know what they can do to support us. While much of this operation is under the control of Forest Services, there are many ways in which OES can help us. He is looking into getting us equipment such as chippers to aid in the clearing of roads, but he is not sure of the legality of this since most of the roads are private. He will see if this can be superceded by the fact that this is an emergency situation.

We were told that a county crew is working on the main road doing vertical and horizontal clearance, from HWY 1 to Bottchers Gap.

Three reminders: Please contact Mike Caplin (see bottom for his number) about ordering Phos-Chek.

Please think about what you can do to help to clear Greenridge today. Perhaps we can start with Greenridge as a community, and then help to clear other private roads as well.

When this is all over we need to continue to be vigilant with our clearing, and come together to support the fire station.

I know that I am tired and I’m sure you are too. I am trying to think of all of this as a long distance run, and not a sprint.

Cheryl told us today that she is cautiously optimistic. I’ll take that.

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