Posts Tagged ‘tassajara’

7/11 – Last Big Sur Community Fire Meeting Notes

July 11, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to social service announcements, etc:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7/10 5:30 – Tassajara Update

July 10, 2008

Reported at 5:30 on the Tassajara blog from a friend of those who have stayed at the retreat center:

I just spoke to Timothy Johnson, MoCo EOC, Fire Branch Manager who told me that the fire has now burned through Tassajara and that all 5 staff are safe and all buildings are intact. According to him the fire is no longer a threat to Tassajara since it has gone through the area.

———————

Confirmed by Tony Peet at 6:15:

“I just received a call from Tim Johnson of the fire command (Monterey County OES) and confirmed by the folks at Jamestown who told me that Tassajara has survived a run of the of the fire “right down the creek” and that it is essentially out of major danger because “all the fuel around it has burned”. All of the volunteers who stayed are safe. All of the (foil wrapped and gel coated) buildings are intact. There are still hotspots around, but it appears that the worst is over.
This all happened at approximately around 1:30p.m.
Hallelujah!”

_____________________

And the official update from the Zen Center website this evening:

Dear Friends,

We have heard from Director David Zimmerman and everyone is safe at Tassajara.  The initial hit from the fire has passed to the East but they are still engaged in putting out the occasional spot fires.  We have lost a few buildings, including the birdhouse and the bathroom by the pool.  The Overlook trail hill is burned and part of the lower garden is lost.  We will post a detailed report tomorrow, once all the facts are in.

While there is much work to be done and we’re not completely out of the woods, we are very relieved that the fire has passed and our friends are safe.

Our deepest gratitude to Abbot Steve, David, Mako, Graham and Colin.

Our deepest gratitude to all of you that have worked so hard to contact authorities to help defend Tassajara.

7/10 2:15pm: Tassajara update

July 10, 2008

Reported at 2:15 today:

Director David Zimmerman reported via telephone that everyone is safe at Tassajara and that the fire has entered Tassajara. The crew is putting out spot fires, and they are continuing to water down the buildings and the grounds. The feeling is that with the watering, the riparian valley is defending against the fire. We will continue to update you as information becomes available.

7/9 7:45pm: Tassajara complete evacuation

July 9, 2008

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.

7/6 9pm: Tonight’s Meeting

July 6, 2008

Notes from tonight:

From Mike Dietrich, Incident Commander:

  • It was a great day!
  • We began backfiring south of Palo Colorado Canyon towards Bixby Canyon. They intend to continue the burning and get it to the Old Coast Highway tonight.
  • Fire made it to the boy scout camp and the fire line held. The camp is secure.
  • We’re very close to getting the northern line to the Little Sur River.
  • There was a little bit of burning inside Big Sur today. Crews are looking at trees that are a hazard and mopping up hot spots along the highway.
  • The line is holding at Dolan Ridge. Dolan had seven residences at risk – teams led the fire down around them and they pulled off a tremendous save. Everyone and everything is safe.
  • Plans for tomorrow and the next couple days: continue mopping up inside Big Sur and securing the area. Working Bottchers Gap to Dani Ridge tomorrow – if this is successful we’ll be able to close the door on the Palo Colorado threat.
  • Next piece (2-3 days out) is to begin burning along the old Marble Cone line at the north end of the fire. The DC-10 and the Martin Mars (Super Scooper) are working there.
  • Current strategy with limited resources is to box things out, work in specific areas then move on to the next hot spot.

From Frank:

  • There was a flare up on Partington today, an area we thought was cooled down. It was on the south slope just below one of the houses that had been saved and the fire wanted to move west, which would be a bad thing. A Brigade engine jumped on it and knocked it down while it was easily manageable. (Lots of clapping.)
  • The Brigade finished their gelling operation and have gelled 54 structures.
  • Re-entry is now at the top of the list and in the planning phase. There is a member of the OES (Office of Emergency Services) team from Monterey County working with Frank on this. “We are working on the first phase that will get us the ability to do infrastructure repair and make it safe for residents to return. The fire is still cooking out there and there are lots of hot spots that will need to be taken into consideration as we start fixing things (laying plastic pipe for instance, would melt right now if it was laid down in some places.) The sheriff is extremely anxious to be as collaborative as he can possibly be with us in this process.” This planning will take everything into consideration, including the possibility of returns for in-and-out visits (get stuff, insurance specs), and those who are in areas that have not burned or lost infrastructure.
  • No more structures have been lost.

Q&A Answers:

  • Frank: There have been two phases of the mandatory evacuation. The first phase gave residents an option to sign a waiver and stay. When the fire got more intense, the sheriff’s office upgraded the evacuation to say that anyone who stayed was subject to arrest. The sheriff’s have been working with us to interpret this for the benefit of the community. I recognize that the evacuation zone has the appearance now of being a “prison” of sorts to people who have stayed. But this is not the intention and the people who have stayed have been extremely cooperative with us – so given the circumstances, tomorrow will be another day and we’ll look at all the options available.
  • Gel questions: Ask questions or come get a Q&A sheet on the gel from Sharon Torrence. (Will post this sheet on the SurFire2008.org site in the Notices section tomorrow.)
  • Frank: Residents who are still in Big Sur: If there’s a flare-up that’s a true threat and it’s after hours, please call 911. Please use discretion. We’ve been called out for a couple stumps in burned out areas that were not a threat and we have limited resources.
  • Mike: There will be a substantial heating and drying weather pattern coming in, moderate offshore flow Monday-Wed. with the potential for thunderstorms (and lightning) Thursday and Friday.
  • Frank: Houses are gelled on Pfeiffer and things are looking very good there.
  • Mike: Near Tassajara the fire has only moved about ¼ mile today and there is air support to keep it moving as slowly as possible toward the Tassajara area.
  • Backburning did not happen as planned off the highway near Esalen today, but they hope to begin tonight if the conditions are right – going from Anderson Canyon south to Hot Springs Canyon.
  • We have the DC-10 now but it could be moved down to the Gap fire. The super scooper will stay here in the area to use as we need.
  • Not every residential area will be represented at tomorrow’s re-entry meeting. We’re doing a scaled down group of reps, including three members of the community.

Rob, a rep from the OES was at the meeting and spoke about plans for re-entry.  I took lots of notes on this too, but am clarifying and checking info with him again before I post that.  It will be posted tomorrow.