11:00PM July 12 Update:
OK, it’s behind the times and doesn’t reveal much about what’s actually happening up there, but people are telling us they want to see it anyway. Here’s this afternoon’s MODIS data showing a heat detection working uphill out of Piney Creek toward the fire line and a heat detection over the line in the White Oak area (which is in the Anastasia Canyon drainage):
As the USFS acknowledged 300 acres of spot fires over the line in the Chew’s Ridge area as of 6:00PM this evening, this map isn’t very revealing. Whether these fires continue to grow will probably depend, almost entirely, on what kind of weather we have tonight and tomorrow.
10:15PM July 12 Update:
Here are some details from a difficult to find (Inciweb is still down and the USFS apparently doesn’t post fire updates anywhere else anymore) USFS fire report from 6:00PM this evening:
* 116,829 Acres
* 61% Containment
* Gusty southerly winds over the incident continued through the day and are predicted to continue through Sunday evening.
* West Zone:
· Firing of the northern containment line was slowed due to high RH in the area.
· Evacuation advisory for Palo Colorado Canyon has been lifted.
* East Zone:
· Crews are close to tying the line in around the slop over in the Rodeo Flats area and are expected to complete the line tonight.
· Slop over on Chews Ridge east of Tassajara Road is estimated to be 300 acres and is burning in heavy fuels. Aircraft worked the area all day and ground crews have gone direct and are making good progress. The normal RH drop in the early morning hours combined with the southerly winds could cause problems with containment.
· Voluntary evacuation order has been issued for the upper Cachagua area today.
They are also hoping to get the “slop over” in the south (across the Rodeo Flat fire line) contained tonight.
9:30PM July 12 Update:
Well, once again we’ve had a mandatory evacuation of a large populated area (this time Jamesburg and a big chunk of Cachagua) called without any real explanation as to why. Anyone who’s been following the postings on the various fire blogs today has seen the result. A lot of people desperate to know what’s going on and what kind of danger their homes are really in – and no information for them other than rumors and whatever facts non-official sources can dredge up from satellites, eye-witness accounts, etc. It’s disgraceful.
After the people in the Big Sur valley were given this treatment, we did some online searching and read through the disaster plans of several California counties. They all emphasized how important it is to give people meaningful information about why they are being asked to evacuate. They underlined that it is not acceptable to just say “there’s an emergency situation, get out.”
Since the importance of giving people real information has been so widely acknowledged by other agencies, how come the Forest Service (who seem to be the people calling these evacuations) haven’t found out about it? Or are they just too embarrassed to admit it when the fire jumps one of their lines? And what about the Sheriff’s Office, that gets called on to enforce these evacuations? Why don’t they ask the Forest Service what the evacuation is for, so they can pass the information along to the public?
Treating people like this is inexcusable. And it’s not just the anguish caused by not knowing what’s happening that we’re talking about. As we saw in Big Sur, people will be making important decisions (including deciding whether to heed the evacuation or to stay and protect their homes) and the more information they have, the better the decisions they make will be likely to be.
So what is happening? It appears that the fire got over the Chew’s Ridge line and into Anastasia Canyon. MODIS is showing one heat detection there – which isn’t too enlightening and doesn’t seem worth posting a map about. We don’t know how the battle to stop, contain or put out that fire is going – but we’ll tell you when we find out …
8:30AM July 12 Update:
Overnight thermal imaging found things still quiet on the northern and southern fronts – but becoming more active again in the northeast corner, on Chew’s Ridge. The active line of fire that had stretched from Church Creek Divide to China Camp on the last map, appears to have moved forward overnight, advancing on Pine Valley and descending into the headwaters of Miller Canyon:
On the other side of the hill, the fire appears to have become more active again in the Calaboose Creek drainage and points east. The backfiring near the top of Chew’s Ridge shows up on MODIS for the first time with a single heat detection on the fire line at the head of Piney Creek:
9:30PM July 11 Update:
Thermal imaging suggests that, with rising relative humidity and lower temperatures, the fire calmed down quite a bit today – with the notable exception of the Chew’s Ridge area. In the Chew’s Ridge area the fire appears to have temporarily abandoned its run to the east (toward Piney Creek) in favor of a push to the north toward Miller Canyon (which would explain all the preparations for evacuations in the Jamesburg area). The most active fire front picked up by MODIS today stretched from near the Church Creek Divide to the China Camp area, roughly following the route of the Pine Ridge Trail:
There are reports that firefighters are working to hold a hand line along this ridge to slow the fire’s progress into Miller Canyon and toward the Big Box line beyond. Backfiring along the top of Chew’s Ridge and around the top of the Piney Creek headwaters also began today, but apparently started too late to be picked up on this satellite pass.
There were no new heat detections on the southern end of the fire.
9:00AM July 11 Update:
The story at this morning’s 6:00AM briefing seemed to be that things, at least on the north end of the fire, are going well. The section from Molera to Bottcher’s Gap is now considered to be in “mop up” mode. The backfiring from Bottcher’s to Big Pines has been completed – but significant areas of unburned fuel remain, making spotting over the line in this area still possible.
7:00AM July 11 Update:
The claim that the fire is headed for White Rock is not supported by the overnight thermal imaging data, which shows the backfiring operations heading east from Big Pines, just as planned.
The fire appears to have remained active in the Chew’s Ridge area overnight, crossing the Calaboose Creek drainage and reaching the ridge overlooking the headwaters of Piney Creek:
On the southern end of the fire, we’re glad to report that there were no fresh heat detections west of the Coast Ridge overnight. This doesn’t mean there’s no fire there, but it does suggest that, if there is, it isn’t burning as hotly or moving as quickly as it was during the day yesterday. The new heat detections on this “slop over” fire are clustered to the east of the Coast Ridge and Cook Springs, on the ridge separating the Arroyo Seco and San Antonio River watersheds:
South Coast Kate’s observations agree with MODIS quite well. She tells us that the glow of the fire behind Cone Peak faded after midnight and that no smoke plumes are visible in the area this morning.
6:30AM July 11 Update:
Kate, on the South Coast, has written us to say that she managed to get a confirmation from the USFS Information Officer (no small accomplishment) that the fire is burning south of the Rodeo Flat containment line.
Meanwhile, the Surfire Blog has posted a report from a White Rock cabin owner that the fire has crossed the northern line and is heading toward White Rock. This has most definitely NOT been confirmed and, in fact, directly contradicts everything we’ve heard about the success of firefighting efforts in that area. Please take this report with an extra large grain of salt until additional information arrives.
8:30PM July 10 Update:
Well, it looks like the breakout to the south may be real. As in the past, the USFS isn’t telling us that a fire line has failed. They’re just saying they expect the fire to “Spread to southwest toward Naciamento-Fergusson Road” (sic) during the next 24 hours. So much for the Rodeo Flat containment effort.
If the fire is really moving back onto the west side of the Coast Ridge, residents in the Lucia area can probably look forward to a new round of evacuations in the days to come. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. The people on the coast have been through enough.
8:00PM July 10 Update:
Some very interesting data on the last satellite pass. If MODIS is correct, not only has the fire passed through Tassajara, it’s gone most of the way to Arroyo Seco:
And what on earth is this??? Has the fire actually breached the Rodeo Flat fire line and made a run to the south toward Cone Peak? MODIS is placing some of these heat detections over the Coast Ridge and into the headwaters of Devil’s Canyon. Let’s hope this is an error:
The northern Big Box line was expected to be the biggest trouble spot when the day began, but, if the thermal imaging is to be believed, it’s been the fire’s most well-behaved section today. Just look at all those spots staying so neat and orderly behind the fire lines:
7:30PM July 10 Update:
The five people who stayed in Tassajara were able to save all but a few minor outbuildings as the fire swept through this afternoon. There is still fire in the area, but most of the danger has probably passed.
3:00PM July 10 Update:
The smoke plume rising from the Pat Spring/Big Pines area at 2:45 this afternoon (as seen from the Laureles Grade area):
2:30PM July 10 Update:
The latest thermal imaging data agrees that the fire is active and growing today.
Here’s what the satellite found around Tassajara (no wonder there’s so much smoke rising):
It looks like fire is also getting close to China Camp:
The Pat Spring/Big Pines area appears to be another hot spot:
1:45PM July 10 Update:
Five people remain at the Tassajara Zen Center as the fire approaches (assuming it hasn’t already arrived). Fire crews have all been pulled out (apparently because Incident Command believes the situation is too dangerous).
Several very large convection columns began building over the fire in the late morning – strongly suggesting a very active fire.
Here’s a nice summary of the overall fire situation from the Firefighter Blog:
The Basin Complex Fire has burned over 90,000 acres and is 40% contained. “… the fire is actively burning east and northeast. The fire tied in nicely with the Indians Fire burn. This should form the final line on the southern front. There are still more than 10 miles of open fire line pushing generally east and northeast towards the Carmel Valley.
Commander Deitrich and his team are nowhere close to snuffing this one out. They still expect the fire to chew through 170,000 acres and don’t expect containment for another 2 weeks.
The Basin Fire census dropped by almost 200 in the last 24 hours as firefighters either timed out or they were needed further north. They still have 6 fixed wing aircraft and 19 helicopters and a force of more than 2,100 spread between two camps.
6:30AM July 10 Update:
This morning’s thermal imaging data suggests the fire (most of it anyway) had a more subdued night than had been feared. At Devil’s Peak the fire looks well-behaved and within the lines:
The fire does appear to be approaching the Big Box line in the Big Pines area, though:
There were no new heat detections along the Buckskin Flats/Hiding Camp portion of the Carmel River – but, only a little ways downstream, the fire is now approaching the river in the Sulfur Springs/Carmel River Camp area (Please note that this is still well upstream of Cachagua and Carmel Valley and well within the Big Box dozer lines):
One place where it really does look like the fire has made a significant move is in the Tassajara area. MODIS now places the leading edge of the fire on the slope immediately to the west of the Zen Mountain Center:
The southern end of the fire appears to have cooled off considerably overnight. The only new heat detections were just upstream from Santa Lucia Memorial Camp (very likely the backfires meant to tie the southeastern corner of the fire into the area burned in the Indians Fire):