7/11 – Last Big Sur Community Fire Meeting Notes

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With an intimate little turnout, the meeting began with announcement that this will be our last fire meeting in Big Sur.

Mike Dietrich and the IC will be transitioning to another fire team on Monday. Mike D. introduced Mike Boone who will be replacing him and whose team will ensure the fire remains where it is, safely in containment lines.

The fire was a “happy fire” today – crews were able to bring fire all the way to the top of the northern containment lines before humidities came up and they had to stop burning operations for the moment.  When conditions are more favorable they will be able to burn all the way down to the Los Padres dam, sealing off the threat to Carmel Valley.

The area from Bottcher’s Gap to Devil’s peak will be complete by tomorrow morning which will tie up the Palo Colorado threat. (clapping!!)

There’s one little spot along Old Coast Road that is still being worked by crews.

The fire is still active down south in the southeast corner – it’s number one focus for the east side crew. The fire didn’t move today and fire line construction is under way.

The road is opening south of Coast Gallery on Sunday morning.

The Basin fire is not out – it’s still very active, though the west side is 90% contained.  The fire is just under the Observatory right now, but is laying down and they expect crews will save it.

The fire did burn through Tassajara and four outbuildings were lost, but everyone is safe.
Next steps are to continue burning the eastern line until the fire is fully contained.

Mike Boone who is coming in is a local guy who knows the area and his crew will be based out of Molera, eating at our restaurants, helping our economy and taking care of spot fires.

Spot fires are popping up and will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months. 99% of them will be benign. Please be very discerning when reporting a spot fire – only report true threats.

The local fire team will be downsizing significantly to 100-150 people starting Monday do clean up.  They hope to be at a point very soon where they’re not staffed during the evenings. 5-7 more days until they’re downsized further into a true rehab mode.

Sam Farr was at the meeting and had these messages to share:

Thanks for calling me with your concerns. I have brought pressure to get the road opened and we’re glad it worked.  Mike and Frank have been great through this and we’ve learned a lot. We passed a great bill this week to open up emergency funds for the forest service and fire fighting.  We’re working like crazy to get all the fires in California declared a national disaster so personal losses can use FEMA support.  Keep all your notes on expenditures made and track income lost!

I sponsored, and Congress unanimously adopted a resolution on Saturday to thank all the firefighters – a framed copy was given to Frank Pinney.

Lessons: we can do a way better job of mapping, we need local people to stay in and work as emergency personnel in this situation.  Let’s really take the lessons learned.  Make a note now, while it’s still fresh, of the things you think we could better do to prepare ourselves in the future.  We can be a model for how other communities do it.  Let’s turn this into a learning lesson and asset for all of us.

On to social service announcements, etc:

The Health Center is back in business full time – they will continue to provide free and discounted services to everyone who has been financially impacted by the fire.  More than 900 cases were treated by Health Center volunteers since this started, and they will continue to serve the firefighters on the new crew coming in to Molera.  Thank you Sharon!!

SPCA will have free pet food on Sunday between 10-2 at Fernwood.

CPOA is transitioning from a relief effort to a planning phase – determining next steps how to best assist the community get back on it’s feet.  Checks not yet picked up will be available at the Grange on Tuesday.

Rob at OES expects to have the damage assessment report done within the next week and half, and then we’ll have a “one-stop-shop” available to provide assistance in the rebuild.  Pick up and fill out a form from them at the Grange – it will tell you more about what services will be available when this is “shop” is open and help you define your needs.

The essential impact of this fire in Big Sur is currently estimated at $781 million – including environmental impact, lost business and property, etc.  This is huge, and we can also remember the hundreds of billions of dollars saved by this fire.

Acknowledgements, appreciations and team medallions were presented from Mike at the IC to Frank Pinney and Martha, as well as to Sharon Carey and Danielle Latta for medical support.

More certificates, team pins of appreciations or rounds of thanks were presented by the IC to Jeannie Alexander, John Farrington, Jess Mason, Cody Oliver, Penny Verigge, Barbara Ray Daughters, Sequoia Chappellet, Jaci Pappas, Leona in IC communications, the translator and Lisa Goettel.

Q&A
As we speak there is a BAER team that is working on rehabilitation planning and will be working with CAL FIRE and the OES to mitigate landslides and the ongoing impact of this fire.

The CPOA and Chamber are actively working together right now, finding ways to rebuild the community. Frank is encouraging both groups to begin planning for road work etc. that will ensure our safety in the months to come.

KUSP will keep a web page up through the recovery efforts.

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