This page (and the many pages that follow) contain our day by day, hour by hour, blow by blow account of the Basin Complex Fires that burned through the Santa Lucia mountains June – August 2008. For information on the Chalk Fire, which broke out on the South Coast Ridge the evening of September 27 and burned throughout the month of October, please see our Chalk Fire pages. Please be aware that we have left these pages pretty much as they were created – so some off-site links may no longer be active.
For the latest information on fire, flood & storm see our Big Sur/Ventana Wilderness Fire/Flood Links Page featuring weather forecasts, weather radar, stream & rain gauge monitors, webcams, local blogs and much, much more.
The Basin Complex Fire Revisited: We provide maps illustrating the fire’s rapid spread over its first 6 days.
An historic article by Dr. James Griffin on recovery of forests (and other interesting topics) 10 months after the Marble Cone Fire.
SEAT Report: Far and away the best source of information on watershed and other resource damage
BAER Team Fire Intensity Maps
Draft BAER Team Report
BAER Team “Technical Specialist” Reports on Trails, Cultural Resources, Fisheries and Wildlife
Our favorite fire-related urban rural legends!
A look at the post-fire debris flow danger (includes videos of debris flows in action!)
Life Returns: Photos taken while the ground was still hot compared to photos taken 4-2-09
Losing historic Big Sur homes burns our butt
The barn is gone, but the Bhudda, wrapped in a cloak of living madrone, endures
A scorched page from Henry Miller’s Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch on the ground near the ruins of a Big Sur homestead. Armando, who obviously studied our photo much more carefully than we did, has written to point out that, even more appropriately, the page is from the A Devil in Paradise adjunct to Oranges and that the second page is from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
Note to our Readers:
Here at Xasáuan Today we generally cater to a small audience of aging beatniks, social and environmental justice advocates, cyclists, and backwoods retro-grouch types. We’re a bit overwhelmed to find that so many (thousands) of you are coming to us for information on the fire.
We do not have the capability to stay on top of things all the time or to post as often as new developments occur, so please do not rely on us to keep you informed 24/7. We’ll continue to update as, and when, we can.
Please remember to take all information you find here (and elsewhere) with a grain of salt. The fire is out of control and so, in many ways, are the human institutions affected by the fire. There is no one person or agency that knows everything that is going on. Information, even from the most sober and official sources, has often proved extremely outdated or inaccurate. We do the best we can. Thank you for your many messages of support.
BTW, one of the best sources of breaking news is the comments section at the bottom of this page – new information often appears there long before it makes it into one of our updates or is reported elsewhere.
Be sure to check our Fire Links Page. If you can’t find the fire info you’re looking for on the sites we’ve listed there, it’s probably not on line yet at all.
And see our new first person account – complete with photos – of the 1972 Molera Fire. The last fire to burn through the Big Sur valley.
The fire is expanding and so is our Photo Tour of Backcountry Areas Affected by the Fire. As the fire keeps growing, we’ll keep adding photos – so check in from time to time.
Click here to read the Opinion piece retired CHP officer, Ken Wright “The Mayor of Big Sur,” wrote for the Salinas Californian regarding the screwed up response of the Monterey County Sheriff to the fire in the Big Sur valley.
Click here to read a number of insightful posts by Capt. Mike, of the Firefighter Blog, regarding the failure of the USFS to provide crews for structure protection at the Zen Mountain Center, Apple Pie Ridge, and beyond.
Click here to read an interesting article on the refusal of the federal government to declare the California fires a disaster.
And click here to read our Editorial Comment on the question of allowing adults to make their own decisions about whether to stay or leave during a fire. For reaction to our comment, see the bottom of this page …
6:00PM August 29 Update:
The Forest Service has announced that they are lifting the closure of the portions of the Los Padres National Forest south of Nacimiento-Fergusson Road at midnight tonight. While it remains unclear why this area, which was never threatened by the fires, was closed in the first place, this will certainly be welcome news to many.
Please note that fires (including charcoal) and “recreational” shooting are still prohibited throughout the Los Padres National Forest and that outdoor smoking is only permitted in “designated Campfire Use Sites.”
9:00PM August 7 Update:
Well, there’s still fire smoldering out there. Burning logs and stumps are still a common sight and once in a while a tree goes up in flames, but it’s been more than a week now since the last flare ups large enough to be noticed by the MODIS satellites. Already the brush is sprouting back, redwood shoots are pushing up through the forest floor and oaks are putting out new growth. We’ve been especially happy to see how vigorously the thimbleberry patches are regrowing themselves. We’d always thought they were kind of fragile – guess we were wrong about that!
It may be good this fire happened so early in the season. Perhaps it will give the new growth more time to stabilize the soil before the onset of the rains. We sure hope so. As it is, there is really a LOT of loose stuff sliding down the sides of the hills and piling up in the dry creek bottoms and drainages – just waiting to be mobilized into some really impressive debris flows. Anyone living downstream from the burn area should take this very seriously.
9:00PM July 28 Update:
There was a lot of smoke still drifting from the fire zone today. These flare ups along Tassajara Creek and near the Horse Pasture Trail were probably responsible for most of it:
12:45PM July 28 Update:
It’s been over 12 hours since MODIS has detected any hot spots and the USFS says the fire is now 100% contained. Looks like the burning phase of this one is just about over.