Author Archive

11/20: Craft Fair Location Announced

November 20, 2008

The Annual Big Sur Fall Harvest Art & Crafts Fair will take place at the Big Sur Station (known also as the Rangers Station, the Multi-Use Facility, etc.) from 10:00am-4:00pm Saturday November 29th and Sunday November 30th. If you have any questions contact Teresa Sutton at:

Big Sur Harvest Art & Crafts Fair

Saturday & Sunday, November 29th & 30th


~ handmade crafts and fine art, jewelry, gifts & food ~


Basin Complex East Information Links

July 13, 2008

Hello! I have been doing some researching to find good sources of information on the Basin Complex East. Thank you to people who have sent me links. If you have any other links to good information, please send them along! This is what I have found at this point:

This is someone attending fire meetings and writing up summaries and giving first hand accounts of what it is like to be in Jamesburg right now. Definitely the most information about the East side of the fire that I have found so far.

A good standby:

This is the official County of Monterey site. It gives good, brief, official information.

This is a non-official, but more detailed site that gives timely information along with thermal maps:

This seems to be an official federal site. If you scroll down about 3/4 of the way on this one there is some good information.

This is where I get my weather reports from. Go to the page, then type in your city and state in the box on the upper left hand side (not the right hand box, this does something else), and you can then narrow down your area. Then it will show you a map that you can click on to make your location and elevation even more accurate. Takes a bit of guess work with the elevation, but it works.

Information for Basin Complex Fire East

July 13, 2008

Hello! I know that people are looking for information about the East side of the Basin Complex Fire. I am too. I will post again when I have more information. Right now I am compiling a list of sites that have information on the active parts of the fire. If you know of any good sites, please contact me so I can include them in my list. I hate to say it, but the information I am finding is sparse.

I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for anyone on the East side of this fire. If there is anyone who is attending local fire meetings on the East side, I would implore you to write up the information that you are given for the benefit of others. If you need help setting up a blog to share this information, please contact me and I will help you. You can contact me by going to my blog

Palo Colorado Fire Summary & Big News!

July 12, 2008

July 11th Palo Colorado Fire Meeting Summary

As of 6:00 am July 12th, our Evacuation Advisory will be lifted! Wahoo!!! Tonight was officially our last meeting. We can unpack and get some good sleep! Businesses are in the process of being inspected, roads are opening, Big Sur seems to be coming back!

There is a possibility of lighting this weekend, but if it comes, it is supposed to come with rain, so we should be okay. (See the bottom for full weather info.)

Today it was humid which kept the fire activity down. The RH (Relative Humidity) also kept back burning operations from moving very quickly. They have burned to Blue Rock Ridge. Fire fighters plan to back burn more tonight around 2:00 am when the RH should drop, allowing them to get a better burn.

The Basin Complex Fire is under Unified Command, with the Basin Complex Fire West under Cal Fire, Big Sur Brigade, and the Mid-Coast Brigade. The Basin Complex Fire East is under the control of Cal Fire and Cachagua Brigade. As the West side of the fire is contained, the camp at Molera State Park will be broken down, and engines will be de-mobilized.

To continue to be informed about the fire, you can call (831) 385-6954. Our Mid-Coast Brigade will also post up fire information at the mouth of Palo Colorado Canyon, the mailboxes at Garrapata, and at Bixby Canyon.

I will call the Basin Complex Fire East contact number and see if I can obtain enough information to write brief e-mails. I will post photos of the fire that I have not had time to post so far on

The Basin Complex Fire and the Indians Fire have officially burned into each other.

The fire burned through Tassajara, and we are told that two outbuildings were destroyed, but that the Zen Center is unharmed.

We were reminded to continue clearing. While the threat from the Basin Complex Fire has subsided, we are only at the beginning of fire season.

The county crew that was working so diligently on Palo Colorado Rd. was pulled by a higher up. They are the only crew for all of Monterey County. OES and others are working to get them back in, as they still have three miles of road to work on. The crew worked for four days, working in 12 hour shifts, and wanted to finish the job.

If they crew is not allowed to come back, we can start a phone calling and letter writing campaign. Let’s see if it can get worked out before it comes to that, but if not, we have all of the necessary information that we need to implore the county that our road needs to be made safe.

Tomorrow there will be another major clearing effort made on Greenridge. Please drive carefully and allow extra time. If you have any time or equipment, please come and help. If you live on Greenridge, please think about pitching in some money or help. They will need water, lunch, and ice cream never hurts.

On Sunday, the Farmer’s Market will run from 11:00-1:00 at Norm’s gate. Next week it will be back at it’s usually spot in front of the fire house.

If you have not yet paid you fire dues for the year, now is a great time. Each household is asked to contribute $200 a year.

Here is the latest on the weather, from NOAA:

Overnight: Widespread haze. Areas of smoke. Partly cloudy, with a steady temperature around 66. South wind around 8 mph.

Saturday: A chance of drizzle before 11am. Partly cloudy, with a high near 74. South southwest wind between 7 and 10 mph.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a steady temperature around 67. South southwest wind between 5 and 8 mph becoming calm.

Sunday: A slight chance of thunderstorms. Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, partly cloudy, with a high near 79. Calm wind becoming southwest between 4 and 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Sunday Night: A slight chance of thunderstorms before 11pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 62. West northwest wind between 3 and 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Monday: Sunny, with a high near 77.

Monday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, partly cloudy, with a low around 61.

Tuesday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 77.

Tuesday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly clear, with a low around 59.

Wednesday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 76.

Wednesday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly clear, with a low around 59.

Thursday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 75.

Thursday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly clear, with a low around 59.

Friday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 75.

As the danger of fire recedes for us, it is both time to celebrate, and time to think of our neighbors to the East who are now experiencing what we have experienced for the last week and a half. Let’s think of our friends in Carmel Valley, Cachagua, and Tassajara, and stay informed on their situation.

For us, though, it is time to both celebrate and to rebuild. T-shirts can be purchased at the fire house and at Local Color that commemorate the fire and raise money for the volunteer fire brigades.

This Saturday an auction will be held at The Big Sur Gallery, proceeds going to the Big Sur Fire Relief Fund. Local Big Sur artists have donated their work which will be auctioned off at 5:00pm. From 3:00 to 8:00 there will be viewings and refreshments.

On July 27th there will be a benefit show at Monterey Live, line-up to be announced.

And, of course, donations can be made directly to the Big Sur Fire Fund by sending checks to:

Coast Property Owners Association (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.

Donations can be made for the Mid-Coast Fire Brigade by sending a check to:
Mid-Coast Fire Brigade
Palo Colorado
Carmel, CA 93923
Donations are 501C3 tax deductible

While I am not grateful for the fire, I am grateful for how it has allowed me to get to know all of you much more closely. I hope to be able to find out more information about the fire for you, and if I do, I will send it along.

I would love to continue getting to know all of you and becoming part of this community. If anyone is interested in starting a meditation group, I would love it. I would be happy to host it at my home. While I am in no means a teacher, I was raised Tibetan Buddhist and  I deeply miss meditating with people in any meditation style. Please contact me if you are interested.

I look forward to seeing all of you at the Labor Day picnic!

Northern Updates

July 11, 2008

If you are looking for additional information about the North flank of the fire, you can also read the Palo Colorado Updates. We are at the NW part of the fire and I update information about this section daily.

Update from Local Fire Fighter for July 11th

July 11, 2008

Hi! I just got this

“Good Morning,
Got a good nights sleep last night thanks to fire fighter Nick going to 6 AM briefing this morning. Just got off the phone with him. Things appeared to be going well overnight. The areas we refer to as Div. AA and BB (basically from Bottchers Gap to the coast) are holding well and now they are in pure mop up mode. Div. CC, Bottchers to Big Pines has been back burned, there are concerns about unburnt islands of fuel in this area and I would be very surprised if we did not see some more big columns of smoke coming from that area today. No new information on the continuing burn out operation between Big Pines and H-29 (sort of the center of Danish Creek), but no news usually is good news or at least not bad news. The winds are set to shift today from NW to SW, though only 5-10 mph. That should not be too bad for us. We are not in the clear yet, there is still the possibility of one of these islands burning hot and causing spotting over the line, but I feel much, much better today than I have in the last week. So stay prepared, but very optimistic as we move hopefully into the last few days of this fire posing a major risk to our little community.
Rested and smiling,

July 10th Palo Colorado Fire Meeting Summary

July 11, 2008

(Hi! If you want to see photos or comment on this, go to

We continue to be under evacuation advisory with a soft close on our road.

Hello, Palo Colorado! Today was a particularly interesting day for me, as I spent it volunteering at the Mid-Coast Fire Station. I loved getting to know the fire fighters more closely, and at the meeting we all seemed to be feeling gratitude for their hard work. As Scott announced each of them, they received a hearty round of applause. The CPOA is looking into supporting the fire fighters who have all had to take leaves from their paid jobs to volunteer their time to protect us.

Again, I encourage everyone who can, to please donate money or volunteer time, and many of you have. Many of you have not, however, paid your fire dues for the year. We are all asked to pay $200 a year in fire dues. If you have not paid you dues, please do as soon as you can. To make donations, please send them to:

Mid-Coast Fire Brigade
Palo Colorado
Carmel, CA 93923
Donations are 501C3 tax deductible

Onto the real news:

Today we saw a large plume of smoke that emanated from “The Saddle” next to Devil’s Peak. While this was quite dramatic, it was inside of containment lines and is what they refer to as an “island.” The thought is that the heat that has been sitting there for so long finally dried out the materials and they all caught fire causing a large amount of burning.

This must have been quite dramatic in Carmel Valley and Cachagua. We were told that they are in the situation that we were in about a week ago, meaning that the fire is advancing in their direction, and they are racing to back burn before the fire advances too far. Back burning operations continue to go well, and they hope to finish before the fire meets the dozer lines.

Today they finished back burning to H-28 which is Big Pines. Tonight they plan to continue to back burn to H-29 which is about 2 miles East. This is difficult terrain, and a relatively dangerous burn for the fire fighters, as the fire is moving uphill in the area, which means it burns faster. The back burn will be handled by a hot shot crew.

Many of us saw helicopters today. They were being filling drop buckets by using a “pumpkin” which is a portable water basin. The pumpkin was located just behind the fire house, which is why so many people saw and heard the activity.

The fire moved through Tassajara today. There was no structural damage, and the fire burned around the Zen Center.

We continue to be in red flag warnings for weather. We hope to be out of the red flag warning soon, although this will probably hold for the higher elevations for a while. There is talk of thunderstorms. There is a 20% chance of storms here, but they would come from the East to the West, which is less of a threat.

Here is the weather outlook, courtesy of NOAA.

Overnight: Clear, with a steady temperature around 67. Southwest wind between 3 and 6 mph.

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 75. Southwest wind between 6 and 9 mph.

Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 60. South southwest wind between 5 and 8 mph.

Saturday: Partly cloudy, with a high near 76. South southwest wind between 5 and 8 mph.

Saturday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 58. South wind between 3 and 8 mph.

Sunday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 76.

Sunday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 55.

Monday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 74.

Monday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 53.

Tuesday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 71.

Tuesday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 54.

Wednesday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 72.

Wednesday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 54.

Thursday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 72.

We were told that the wilderness will be closed for quite a while. There is still fire activity, and we will continue to see hot spots and islands flare up for a while. The wilderness may not be able to re-open until it rains.

We were reminded that when this is all over, we will be a small island of fuel, and that we must continue to be diligent in our clearing and maintenance.

Phil Yenovkian of OES came and told us that the county crew that had been clearing the road was taken out as we are competing for resources, but that they will be back. OES is working to get grants to continue this clearing.

Jerri told us that the maps are looking good, and that she will be using a GPS device to mark the exact location of each of our homes. She will call ahead, but will need to come onto each of our properties to take the GPS reading. She will start on Greenridge and lower Greenridge. We are reminded that these maps will remain confidential.

Finally, we were told that once this fire merges with the Indians Fire (which it may have already) and all is said and done, they expect that 250,00 acres will have burned. This will be the largest fire in California’s history. That is a record I hope I never see broken.

7/10 am: Brief Fire Update from one of our local Fire Fighters

July 10, 2008

(You can visit as well)

“Went to 6 am briefing this morning and from all reports the containment line from Bottchers to Devils Peak held overnight and the fire did not make any extreme runs at the line. Today will be a critical day of burn out operations and it looks like wind and air conditions will be favorable for this operation. Not in the clear yet, but working steadily toward it.”

July 9th Palo Colorado Fire Meeting Summary

July 10, 2008

(To comment on this blog and to view photos of the fire and firefighting efforts in Palo Colorado, please visit Thanks!)

We continue to be under and Evacuation Advisory.

From Palo Colorado to Lucia there is a soft close on the road and an Evacuation Advisory. Residents and workers with passes may enter this zone. Buildings and businesses are being inspected and we will soon hear when businesses plan to re-open to the public. They must first get road clearance, and because of fire equipment along the road and the potential for spot fires, we will have to wait a few more days at the least.

Today we woke to blue skies in Palo Colorado Canyon. The smoke that was lingering so heavily yesterday had cleared out, which made it possible for fire fighters to work more extensively and allowed for the use of air support. I was told that they were flying S2’s, C-130’s, MAFS (Modular Airborne Flying System), and the DC-10.

Fire crews worked to finish back burning on the North East containment lines. Crews back burned up to the summit of Devil’s Peak. While the plan is to back burn the entire perimeter of the fire along the dozer lines, the North flank of the fire is coming quite close to dozer lines that have not yet been back burned. It is expected that the fire will burn from Little Pines up to Big Pines either tonight or tomorrow. This means that the fire will be coming relatively close to parts of Carmel Valley and Cachagua. Therefore, crews may need to go direct on this section of the fire tonight or tomorrow.

While there is a possibility that the fire could jump the line near Big Pines, fire crews will try to hold the line there by going direct. If the fire were to spread, it could come around the containment lines to Palo Colorado’s North and hit us from the outside. Even if this were to occur, however, the fire would still be days away from us, as it would be advancing slowly.

Tonight could be an eventful night for this section of the fire. Fire fighters have noticed a pattern of fire activity particular to our location. As the marine layer comes in at night, it brings in humidity which reduces fire activity. However, between 1:00 and 3:00 am the this layer goes back out and humidity drops, resulting in faster burning and more fire activity.

We will need to wait and see what happens tonight, and will then know more about what to expect from the fire in coming days. Crews continue to work on contingency containment lines that go from White Rock into Garrapata Creek and just near the Devon Ranch. They could run dozers near Mt. Carmel.

Big Sur Valley looks to be in good shape. South of Big Sur Valley fire crews are working on back burning, but high humidity has kept the back burns from firing well.

Here is the latest weather report, courtesy of NOAA.

Overnight: Mostly cloudy, with a steady temperature around 66. Light northeast wind.

Thursday: Partly sunny, with a high near 84. Calm wind becoming west southwest between 5 and 8 mph.

Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 63. West southwest wind between 5 and 8 mph becoming calm.

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. Southwest wind between 6 and 8 mph.

Friday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 59. West southwest wind 5 to 8 mph becoming south southeast.

Saturday: Partly sunny, with a high near 80.

Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 57.

Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 75.

Sunday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 54.

Monday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 71.

Monday Night: Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 52.

Tuesday: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 72.

We were updated on the condition of the firefighter who was badly hurt while hiking during fire operation. She was part of the BLM Alaska Fire Service, and a Chena Hot Shot. We were told that she was diagnosed with rhabdomylosis, as syndrome that causes sever swelling of the muscle tissue which overloads the renal system.  Doctors were forced to remove all of the muscles in the front of her right leg in order to save the leg. We were encouraged to send cards and letters of support to:
Angela Yemma
11550 Homestake Peak
Littleton, CO 80127

We were told that from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am the FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) flies looking for hot spots.

We were told that the Mid Coast Fire Brigade needs funds. A fund raiser is being set up by Mary Verigee, Rachel Muehler, and Pam Peck that will take place in mid November, around Thanksgiving.

One way to support the Mid-Coast Fire Brigade is by buying a t-shirt that will soon be available. The fire department needs people to answer the phones at least though Sunday. (I will be there tomorrow!)

Also, checks can be sent to:
Mid-Coast Fire Brigade
Palo Colorado
Carmel, CA 93923
Donations are 501C3 tax deductible.

We were told that the county crew that has been clearing the road has worked their way from Bottcher’s Gap to the Hoist. They will continue to HWY 1. There are only 4 guys clearing, which is the entire crew for the county of Monterey. They have been coming in early and staying late. As they are working on the road, residents should leave themselves extra time coming and going on the road.

We were also reminded of the Labor Day Picnic. Hopefully it will be a time for us to all come back together and celebrate making it through the fire safely.

Phil Yenovkian of the Office of Emergency Services (OES) came back to the meeting tonight with good news. After meeting with others at the OES, he thinks that he will be able to help us with some of our tree and brush issues. OES is not allowed to come onto private land, however, OES is working out a plan to dispose of tree limbs and brush if we can bring it to Palo Colorado’s main road. There will be designated days and designated drop off points. He will be able to bring in 3 or 4 chippers to help us. He said that he really wants to help us, and that at this point he is not saying no to anything, and will look into the feasibility of all requests.

We were told that Jerri has been working on the neighborhood maps and they are looking good. She wants to remind us that they are completely confidential and are only for the use of the Mid-Coast Fire Brigade. The maps will be labeled with everyone’s house number or name in the absence of a number. Then there will be a corresponding sheet which lists everyone on the property and where water and propane tanks are.

We were reminded to leave our gates open of to purchase a KNOX Lock. This is a system that works like a regular gate lock, but that has a universal key only held by fire departments. The key can not be duplicated and is kept inside to the fire truck to be used only for emergency purposes.

Lastly, this is a new website I just found. It does not have totally new information, but it is very official, and it always helps to read the same information put a different way. It is the “Daily Situation Report” from the Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center Intelligence:

I hope everyone is doing well. I look forward to the Labor Day Picnic celebration.

July 8th Palo Colorado Fire Summary

July 9, 2008

(To comment -and please do- on this post and view photos, please go to Thank you!

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:

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
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.

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

July 8, 2008

(If you would like to see photos of the fire activity in Palo Colorado Canyon or comment on my postings, please visit 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 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 or call 831-624-1172.

I hope you are all well and dreaming of rain.

July 6th Palo Colorado Fire Summary

July 7, 2008

(To see my preamble of who I am and that I have no special knowledge of fire activity, as well as some photos of fire activity, please visit

A personal note:

Amid horrible reports of tensions (to put it lightly) between non-local fire and law enforcement officials and our locals, I feel so lucky to have a local fire fighting brigade defending not just my home against fire, but also my rights. The Mid Coast Brigade have fought for us to be able to stay in Palo Colorado as long as we have. They are doing an amazing job with the fire and with managing the needs of locals. While there may be many things to be upset about during this horrifically trying time, we should only be thankful for the local men and women who make up the Mid Coast Fire Brigade. I only wish that everyone in Big Sur could have local fire officials defending them as well.

Onto the news.

July 6th, 2008 Palo Colorado Fire Meeting

We continue to be under Evacuation Advisory. There continues to be a soft close on the road. We are asked to continue clearing our property, and to prepare for evacuation should anything get out of hand.

Today they started to back burn. We were told that the operation could not have gone better. As many of us witnessed first hand, it was a busy day in the canyon. There were C1-30’s, D2V Neptunes, Grumman-S2’s, lots of helicopters, and the big DC-10, all coming together to pull-of a major operation of back burning. (If I got any of those planes right, you can thank Norman.) The super scooper did not make it here from Canada. If you would like to see a photo that David took of the DC-10 dropping fire retardant on Bixby Mountain, you can go to

We were told there was a bit of a delayed start as they got all equipment into place. They chose between starting at either Devil’s Peak or Skinner Ridge. The chose to start with Skinner Ridge.

There were three firing teams working in tandem.  Teams and planes worked to set back burn fires, drop fire retardant, and drop water on hot spots to keep the back burn under control. The DC-10 made three large drops of fire retardant each of which was one mile long. The DC-10 is based out of Victorville and was reloading out of Stockton.

Teams continue to work into the night on the back burn. Sixty to sixty five fire fighters are actively working on this part of the back burn as I write this. During the night, planes will not be used, but the relative humidity will help keep things cool.

We were told that the planes do not put out the fire- the dozer puts out the fire. It is only by creating these containment lines that the fire will be tamed. Because we do not have many roads, there are few pre-existing containment lines, so we have to build them.

The next few days will be critical to this operation. They got a lot of black on the ground, but the fire could still jump the line because of the winds. They will finish off the areas that have been started back burning and get as much black on the ground there before putting more fire on the ground anywhere else. On Tuesday they predict the winds to shift against us. On Wednesday they predict heat and wind. On Thursday they predict the winds to calm down.

We were told that our weather is so hard to predict because of the many microclimates in Big Sur. This a-typical weather makes fire activity hard to predict as well.

If the fire were to jump the line,  it would still take a day or two before it was an immediate threat to us. The fire retardant that was dropped will help hold the line for the next few days. They are creating a fire break at White Rock as a contingency plan. There are various contingency plans being put in place.

There are also more fire lines being built to protect Carmel Valley. These lines may not tie directly into our fire lines. There is a division of fire management between us and the most Eastern part of the fire.

Fire teams dotted fire at the boyscout camp, doing controlled burns around buildings. The fire has not backed its way into the boyscout camp and they feel that the camp is secure.

We were told that we will probably see smoke for some time. Other parts of the dozer line still need to be back burned. There may be islands of heat throughout the places that have burned. Even when all of the fire is at some point contained, we will need to patrol the area until the next rain.

In the morning they will meet to assess the progress of the back burn and make further plans.

At tomorrow’s meeting we will learn about the North-most part of the fire that they still need to work on.

We were told that we are not out of the woods yet, but that we are in the home stretch.

We were told that each year the fire season gets longer and longer. While the fire season used to only last from mid-May to October, it now lasts from April to December. This means that we still have a long fire season to go.

We were asked to stay vigilant with out clearing. We were told that while many people’s properties have now been cleared, the roads continue to look very bad. Many roads are covered with dead tan oaks. Because many roads are shared among a multiple property owners, we are asked to come together to make plans for shared roads to get them clear. Among the worst of the roads is Greenridge. We were reminded that the Palo Colorado main road is not often cleared by the county, and therefore could be treated as a private road as well. Therefore property owners along the main  road are encouraged to get together and maintain the road as best they can.

The new standard for fire trucks is quite large. To safely come down a road, they are looking for clearance that is 13 foot high and 12 foot wide.

When this is all over, they will assess the issue of roads and look at the worst roads. Pam is working with others to write a grant to the Monterey Fire Safe Council to help with road work.

However, it was pointed out that the home owners on Partington Ridge had just been awarded just such a grant, but did not have time to put the plan into place. We must be vigilant and we must clear our roads. Even if we have all cleared our houses, the fire fighters cannot get to our homes if our roads are not clear. We were given the number of  J.V. Tree Service. They will come to the canyon with a chipper. (See the bottom for the number.)

A question was asked about how long our friends from the South can expect to be evacuated for. There is no way to predict that at this point, but we were told that they want to get people home as soon as possible.

There were clarifications made about who does and who does not need a Palo Colorado Permit issued to them by Cheryl. If you have any sort of document that links your name to Palo Colorado Canyon, you do not need a permit from Cheryl. This may be a tax form, license, utility bill, mail,  rental agreement, etc. The only people who need a permit from Cheryl are people who do not have any of these things. These people may be adult children of Palo Colorado residents, or renters that do not have Palo Colorado documentation. If you are a Palo Colorado home owner or have a rental agreement, if you receive mail in Palo Colorado, if you pay bills in Palo Colorado, or if you have a license issued to you in Palo Colorado, you do not need a permit from Cheryl. You must, however, show whatever form of documentation you have to the CHP at the mouth of the road.

We were told that the Thermo-Gel representative may be at the meeting tomorrow night.

I don’t know about all of you, but I am going to bed with a good feeling tonight. I would like to quote Cheryl in saying “It was a good day, you guys.”

Updates from Palo Colorado Canyon

July 6, 2008

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!