7/10 at 8:00am: Tassajara update

July 10, 2008 by

Five people decided not to evacuate Tassajara. The fire has crossed the road out. It has not reached Tassajara. Their plan is to stay to keep sprinklers and pumps operational and running as the fire approaches, not to actively fight the fire. For more details check: http://sittingwithfire.blogspot.com/


Locals returning and readying businesses for opening

July 10, 2008 by

First, the Big Sur valley does not appear to be threatened by fire any longer. Second, it looks like we have turned the corner on the fire situation for Big Sur businesses as a whole. On Wednesday the core of the business district had health inspectors come in to check water delivery systems, etc., for housing, and businesses. I believe all businesses passed and we’re on to the next phase of the regulatory agencies. All and all it was a good day.

A few businesses opened their doors for business for the locals and the firefighters and others spent the day welcoming the work staff back to Big Sur and began the cleaning process. The biggest problem for most businesses is cleaning off the ash from windows and decks. A few spot fires that hardly drew a glance flared up in varying places along the Big Sur valley wall looking like a campfire out of place more than anything else.. The long and short of it is that we are now preparing for the reopening of Big Sur. A date positive has not been set precisely but next Monday is the projected date. The Big Sur Chamber of Commerce has asked for a re-evaluation every 24 hours. We are diligently working with the agencies responsible for public safety and as soon as the regulatory agencies have cleared all the necessary requirements and have assured public safety,  Big Sur will be open to receive guests again.
We thank everyone for your understanding in this challenging time  and we look forward to welcoming you, our friends, families and travelers all back to Big Sur. Please watch here and the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce website for a specific date for reopening. http://www.bigsurcalifornia.org
Wednesday I watched the sunset through the Big Sur Valley and celebrated with the workers as they returned to Post Ranch Inn. The colors and the nuance of light was ominously spectacular as smoke from the Little Sur river watershed lifted above the Big Sur river valley, casting a bruised colored shadow on the ash covered hills.
Big Sur Valley from Post Ranch Inn

Big Sur Valley from Post Ranch Inn

7/9 Community meeting minutes

July 9, 2008 by

Thank you Linda Rowland-Jones:

IC / Mike Dietrich says the Indians and Basin Complex fire has joined as of today, making a “bath” of the two fires. Tassajara has evacuated as of today. There are 70 miles of line around the entire fire, which is the toughest he’s been on. IC is looking at moving camp on Monday! Down to small IC organization, moving into patrol phase, two helicopters, a couple of crews, they will maintain a presence for several weeks, or months, until considered completely secure. This transition plan will provide a full blown Incident Command if needed.

BSVFB / Frank Pinney says he is glad to see so few of us tonight. Plan is to meet on Friday evening at 7pm at the MAF again, no meeting tomorrow. It’s a tremendous relief to see this fire so much under control. We’ll continue to see flareups but as long as they’re in the black, with no other fuel around, we’re OK. If we see activity around a structure call 911. Remote areas are also being observed far by USFS.

OES / Robert Clayburn continues with community service at Grange, if any questions about repairs, relief programs please come there between 9am and 2pm. Assessments of businesses are now ongoing.

Per Frank Pinney we may have public access via the highway after the weekend, this is being evaluated on a daily basis.

Impact of thermagel on plants and wildlife?
The environmental effect is benign, it is a surfactant (like in baby diapers) it not active, will not hurt plants.
Suggestion is to mist the gel lightly, as in re-hydrating, then when it loosens use straight stream of water and wash it off (it’s slippery!) Dietrich interjects that we may have 4 foot cabbages…

The currently visible plume (from the valley) is on the north side of fire line, they are burning up a corner to secure fire perimeter.

The fires in Buck creek and Burns creek are active, but we want that fire to do what it needs to do, i.e. burn itself OUT in these areas.

The Hot line has gone “cold” and is moving to a taped message as of tomorrow, Thursday 7/10/08. It will give a list of taped numbers for information.

Hooray! Everyone is exhausted and happy at the end of this meeting.

7/9 7:45pm: Tassajara complete evacuation

July 9, 2008 by

This just in from the Sitting With Fire blog:

On the advice of the experienced Fire Service people at Tassajara we have decided to evacuate everyone. While they have not yet left, we expect them at Jamesburg shortly. The fire has not yet reached Tassajara or the road.

We do not know how long Tassajara will remain empty but the current Red Flag warning does not end for a couple of days. Fire crews have told us of strong winds at the ridge. These winds together with the extreme temperatures and little or no recovery in humidity overnight produce ideal conditions for the fire to move faster than we had hoped.

We appreciate that this news may cause concern but please do not call the Tassajara or Jamesburg numbers as we need the phones.

We have places to stay for the current round of evacuees for a short while.

The wrapping team finished their work shortly after lunch.

There is now a Highway Patrol vehicle at Jamesburg preventing non-residents from driving up Tassajara Road.

Big Sur Valley, OES, Nepenthe tonight

July 9, 2008 by

I traversed the Big Sur Valley today speaking with business owners. People are coming back and setting up their computers and trying to get resettled. The Monterey County Office of Emergency Services and Patrick Maris, Senior Building Inspector & Roger Van Horn, Senior Environmental Health Specialist have been making inspections all day. I believe all businesses are passing. I haven’t heard otherwise.

From what I saw all the businesses are cleaning and preparing for an opening which will still be a few days from now as best as we can tell. No date has been set. A series of inspections are taking place and we’ll get through this process as quickly as possible.

Fire hoses that were strewn throughout the valley are being picked up. They’re in piles alongside the roadway and flatbed trucks are picking them up. Here’s a photo:


Big Sur Valley cleanup

Big Sur Valley cleanup

The lawn at the Henry Miller Memorial Library looks great. It should take a two week break in the middle of summer every year.

Nepenthe will be open at 5:00 PM tonight with a limited menu. – obviously locals only and firefighters and people inside the soft closure.

Although the fire danger appears to be very low in the business district of the Big Sur valley, in southern Big Sur, in the Dolan creek area, the fight goes on. I saw Mark Hudson at Nepenthe and he had been up all night fighting the fire to protect their home. Another family defending their own property successfully. He looked like a Chimney Sweep without the top hat.

Coast Gallery certainly had a close call evidenced by the image here.


There are a lot of heros, and of course villains, in every story as dynamic as the Big Sur Fire of 2008 and stories will be told for the rest of our lives. Three of the unsung heros from here at Post Ranch Inn are Mike, Jesus, and Martin who stayed inside the evacuation zone with us and managed the water pumps and generators at Post Ranch Inn to keep water flowing into the pond. They stayed up all night with us watching the fire, keeping sentry, afraid as we were to take our eyes off the fire line as it worked its way into the valley. They slept on top of the water storage tanks and made sure the pumps never stopped. All the records aren’t in but Mike said 320,000 gallons of water was pumped into the pond for the helicopters to extract. Sometimes three helicopters would be involved in their tight choreography spinning over the tops of the redwoods to pull water from the pond.

I took a drive through Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and all and all it looks pretty good. The fire burned down to the campgrounds and to the road in a few places. 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I just spared you 5,000 words of me attempting to be Hemingway. Enjoy the photos.

Watch for other businesses to start opening their doors this evening and tomorrow to take care of firefighters and those inside the soft closure.

7/9 10:30am -2:00pm Big Sur Valley to Big Creek

July 9, 2008 by

I drove the highway from River Inn down to Big Creek checking on friends, old neighbors, and for quick meetings. There are some small slides on the road so drive smart. The further south I drove the more small spot fires I saw and the more fire personnel monitoring and/or mopping up these small hot spots. The Dolan Ridge line to the road looks solid and there is a crew there now mopping up and monitoring. The sea is calm, the fog is just off shore. Relative to the Rat Creek fire of ’85’ I was surprised to see how much did not burn to the highway. In general, many of the canyons further south burned more extensively on the southern side of the watershed and not on the northern side leaving more area unburned and intact for wildlife.

7/8 Community Meeting Minutes

July 9, 2008 by

Thanks again, Linda Rowland-Jones:

Mike Dietriech, IC report:
23% containment on Basin Complex Fire.
As of 10 am Wednesday, 7/9/08, there will be an advisory evacuation from Julia Pfeiffer Burns to Lucia, this area is no longer under mandatory evacuation!
Residents can enter the area with identification / passes and employees on business lists can also enter the area.
We are expecting higher temperatures tomorrow, which could affect the fire.
We lost some firefighters to the fire in Paradise, CA, and only 3 firefighters experienced minor injuries in this fire to date. There are also amazing maps of fire now available via imaging from military aircraft.

Frank Pinney, BSVFB report:
Yes, the fire is winding down…Please keep driving speed to 30 mph since there are fire trucks and service vehicles. Only residents should be on the east side of the highway.
Although ashes are still falling and air quality is awful, the Post Office will be open tomorrow!

Tuesday morning there was a County planning process mtg, which Supervisor Dave Potter attended. The re-entry planning process is now beginning with a clear need to create systems everyone, businesses and residents, to re-start their normal lives.

Rob  Clayburn, Office of Emergency Services (EOS) report:
Setting up the Emergency Operations Center at the Grange Hall to assess the community’s needs. Also there will be EOS teams out in the field tomorrow, they will sweep down through the valley to assess needs of properties on east & west side. These visits to properties are part of the assessment process; health dept. reviewing safety / health of businesses and residential properties. Assessments of the entire evacuated are need to be done in order to comply with federal assistance agencies.

Thanks to Michael Miller of the Grange Hall for assisting in the EOC set up. There will be  3pm meeting at Grange tomorrow, focusing on builders, contractors and business owners to begin brainstorming on how to repair the damage to Big Sur businesses and residences.

EOS will work hard to find a reasonable solution for the permit request process for the total rebuilding plan. The y will review the historical perspective on testing water, etc. Soon there will be a full fledged EOC, at the Grange Hall, to help individuals affected by the fire with all levels of emergency assistance.

Commander Oakley, Sheriff’s department:
Welcome back! Congratulations on how well our emergency services worked for us, fire folks, local govt. law enforcement, forest service, etc.
Passes can picked up at the Multi-Agency Facility from 8am to noon on Wednesday.
Drive safely and slowly!

Can we staff an official lookout person at Clear Ridge to monitor areas that have hot spots?
Dietrich may consider a volunteer for this, to coordinate communication with USFS. Currently all areas are being overseen, with a plane flying the whole perimeter of the fire daily. USFS patrols are moving around around the clock in all areas.

Dietrich reminded us that smoldering trees in an already burned area is normal, but we need to report fires in un-burned areas to USFS patrols. Ask for assistance if necessary in turning on propane tanks. Residents can go south and north on the highway through closures with a pass effective starting Wednesday at 10am.

Chief Pinney comments that we are here by “jumping the gun.”  The County is being tested in their ability to support us on the fly. Basically, a quick decision has been made to  allow people back in, as one official said: “get her done.”

When will the highway open?
Clean up and assesment needs to come first, which the County and IC will determine. They will make a decision on this by the weekend, possibly before.

All of this is subject to fire conditions which may change with the weather. Be ready to change your plans if necessary and be alert!

July 8th Palo Colorado Fire Summary

July 9, 2008 by

(To comment -and please do- on this post and view photos, please go to tarawings.wordpress.com. 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: 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.

7/9 am: The valley, Little Sur, & Office of Emergency Services

July 9, 2008 by

I drove through the valley last night and snapped a couple photos. All and all, we dodged a bullet. There are a few startling scenes but when I speak to people who’ve been up in the helicopters and they say it looks like a moonscape up over the ridge, we’re sitting real pretty.

Little Sur river basin had some fire activity last night about 6PM. I’m getting jaded. I looked at it and said to myself, “That’s good. That’ll clean that section out.” The cows were hanging out around the flat area in the turnout overlooking the Little Sur rivermouth looking at me taking pictures of them and eating.

Fire trucks are lined up in an orderly fashion, east of Highway 1 in front of the Hill Ranch. West of Highway 1 at the ranch is now a heliport and fueling station. lots of trucks to service the craft and 4 helicopters were parked there when I went by.

I posted the following information in the NOTICES section of the site:

Monterey County Office of Emergency Services
Rob Clyburn Monterey County Office of Emergency Services is setting up a fire assistance center at the Big Sur Grange Hall.
First Priority is for businesses and residents that were not directly affected by the fire or had minimal impact by the fire. Going to do a quick health and safety inspection. (Lights work, water works… move on to the next business)
Working from north to south.
This begins Wednesday, July 9, 9:00 AM

While doing these rapid assessments, “let us know if you have water damage and we will pay for the testing of the water.”

Once we have a good feel feel for what the community needs the Big Sur Grange Hall will become a “local assistance center.”

A representative from different state agencies will be available.

Hours for seeing people will be from 9AM – 2:00 PM – hours subject to be expanded later.

Expedited permit for small construction, repair and to start the application process for rebuilding your homes will be available at this location.

A representative was at the Community Meeting at the MAF Tuesday night, 7:00 PM

Quick Note from Michael Miller at the Grange:
Michael is having a meeting with local contractors at the Grange on Wednesday, 3:00 PM to speak about rebuilding.

7/8 10pm: Tonight’s meeting and update

July 8, 2008 by

Due to a technical issue in Big Sur right now we won’t have tonight’s community meeting notes online until tomorrow – but here are the salient headlines:

– The highway between Julia Pfeiffer Burns and Limekiln expects to re-open to residents only tomorrow at 10am.

– The tone of the evening was that while the fire is still active on many fronts, the activity in the Big Sur valley and along the Highway is winding down and we seem to be turning the corner.

– Many services are re-establishing themselves in Big Sur beginning tomorrow, including mail and the health center. See the “Notices” section of http://SurFire2008.org for updates and announcements throughout the week.

James Mearns has posted the video of the meeting online here:http://thefogspot.blogspot.com/

7/8 10am: First Drive of the Big Sur Valley

July 8, 2008 by

Upon driving the highway for the first time in several days, there were few vehicles in the Big Sur Valley with fire engines still parked in a few strategic spots watching for fire activity. While almost everything on the east side looks quite different, it was comforting to see that there were few active spots still smoldering.

Power is on as far as Nepenthe. Drive Safe!

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

July 8, 2008 by

(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.

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

July 8, 2008 by

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.

News from Dolan Ridge and the Big Sur Valley

July 7, 2008 by

News from the south along the Dolan Ridge line: crews continued the back burn down along Dolan Ridge through the grasslands. The marine layer is dampening the fire. Looks as though this important line is on the mop-up end of things (this cautiously said, as we need to keep in mind a shift in wind and temperature could change things in a moments notice).

Everything in the Big Sur valley out to east Molera contines to be relatively quiet with a small plumes of smoke rising up through the burned areas.

Through smoke-filled skies you can see the burn down to the school. The Chamise Scrub burned completely as it back down the mountain. The fire mostly burned the understory of the forested areas while it did crown in a few locations.

Through smoke-filled skies you can see the burn down to the school. The Chamise Scrub burned completely as it back down the mountain. The fire mostly burned the understory of the forested areas while it did crown in a few locations.

7/7 – 8pm Mandatory Evacuation lifted tomorrow!

July 7, 2008 by

Official notes and details coming shortly, but after what is sure to have been quite a conversation today there has been an announcement that as of 10am tomorrow morning, the mandatory evacuation status will be lifted for most of Big Sur. Highlights of what we know right now:

  • Only residents who show a Big Sur ID will be let through the Palo Colorado checkpoint.
  • All residents will need to obtain a pass at the Big Sur Station (available after 10am tomorrow) to enter their ridge roads.
  • The road is still closed from Julia Pfeiffer Burns to Limekiln and that area remains under mandatory evacuation.
  • The evacuation status may change again at any time if fire threats change.

Full details will be up here in the next two hours.