Posts Tagged ‘Mid Coast Fire Brigade’

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 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!