10:15PM July 5 Update:
This evening’s 6:00PM USFS Fire Update, unavailable at the Community Meeting, has just been posted on Inciweb. It reads in part:
The fire was extremely active on both the north and south fronts. Despite the extreme fire activity, the crews’ hard work held the line on the south front. On the northwest front, air attack focused efforts on slowing the spread of the fire toward Highway 1 and down Pico Blanco into the Little Sur drainage. · The MANDATORY evacuation along Highway 1, from Limekiln State Park to Lucia, has been changed to an evacuation ADVISORY. This section of the highway is now open.
Current Status: · Tomorrow high temperatures above the marine layer are expected in the mid 90’s with humidity ranging between 8-20%. · The fire continues to spread north and west in the Pico Blanco area and along Highway 1. It is spreading toward the Pico Blanco Scout Camp and down the west slope of Pico Blanco. The fire is spreading downslope toward the Ventana Inn area. Firefighters are having difficulties with tactics in the Big Sur community because of snags, power lines, and limited access. · Dozer and hand line construction began today in the White Rock Ridge area, as a contingency in the event the fire crosses the existing lines. · The fire continues to back downslope toward Highway 1 in the Apple Pie Ridge area. · Firing operations continued along Highway 1 to reduce fuels in the vicinity of Big Sur. · There are no immediate plans to evacuate in the Palo Colorado area, and the incident still anticipates providing a 24 hour notice for evacuation of residents.
Planned Actions: West Zone: Provide structure protection. Firing along lines in north and northwest areas of the fire. Continue structure protection assessment and preparation in the community of BIG SUR, Palo Colorado Canyon area and south of Dolan Ridge. Conduct firing operations to check fire spread along Hwy 1 and on Dolan Ridge, on Mescal Ridge from Bottchers Gap to the Old Coast Road, from Bottchers Gap to Skinners Ridge. Construct contingency dozer line from Hwy 1 east towards Whiterock Ridge. East Zone: Continue structure protection preparation in Cachagua area/Carmel Valley Road. Hold and improve line.
10:00PM July 5 Update:
Big Sur in exile – Day 4
Tonight’s Community Meeting at Carmel Middle School began with the usual hand out of the latest USFS Fire Update. Only problem was they handed out this morning’s 6:00AM Update instead of the afternoon Update. God only knows when, if ever, we’ll see today’s afternoon Update.
That made it all the more important to hear what Incident Commander, Mike Dietrich, had to say and he did not disappoint. Here are the key points:
Just as this morning’s MODIS data indicated, the fire made a big move in the Puerto Suello Creek drainage. Dietrich says this means it will probably arrive at the northern fire line sooner than he had anticipated.
Dietrich also said that, contrary to the MODIS data, the fire has NOT crossed the North Fork Little Sur in the canyon between Pico Blanco and Mescal Ridge. He said they are backfiring along the Old Coast Rd. from Molera and hope to have backfired from that road all the way to the Little Sur River by morning. Tomorrow they hope to continue backfiring up the grade to meet the Mescal Ridge fire line, as well as backfiring along that line. If all of this is successful, he thought they might have the northwest corner of the fire contained within one or two days!
He said that, in the Big Sur Valley, they have avoided further loss of structures and backfired along much of the Highway from Ventana north. Hot spots remain and they are working on them. He retracted a previous statement that firefighters had been on Apple Pie Ridge, saying that at the time he made that statement it was not accurate. He said he wasn’t going to comment further about the “Apple Pie situation” because it was now a “law enforcement matter.” On the subject of when Big Sur residents might be able to return to their homes he said that in “a few days” they might be able to “start looking at plans” for bringing people back. Hope those sofas and cots are comfortable …
As for the Southern end of the fire, Dietrich said the line on lower Dolan Ridge is holding. Fire has spotted over in places, but been mopped up. The fire has burned around “four of the seven” homes in the Dolan Creek area, but they have been protected and no structures have been lost.
At the Palo Colorado Community Meeting, meanwhile, residents were told that work on the northwestern lines had been slower than hoped today, but that the backfiring is scheduled to begin at 10:00AM tomorrow; working from Skinner Ridge west. A hand line has been completed down Long Ridge (the “contingency line” route) and they will be putting dozers on it tomorrow. The DC-10 arrived today and made a couple of passes painting the Mescal Ridge line. Each pass is reputed to cover a mile. And Lloyd Jones even sent us a pic:
12:30PM July 5 Update:
Reports from both official and unofficial sources all agree that the situation has calmed down considerably in the Big Sur valley this morning. Some excellent photos, many from this morning, can be found here. News from other corners of the fire is proving harder to come by.
7:45AM July 5 Update:
Overnight thermal imaging found active fire in 5 different places. In the North Fork Little Sur canyon between Pico Blanco and Mescal Ridge, in the Puerto Suello Creek drainage, along Post Creek in the Big Sur valley, in the headwaters of Lost Valley Creek, and in the Dolan Canyon/Rat Creek area. The fire is, of course, still burning in other areas, but these may well have been the most active overnight.
Here’s a view of the canyon between Pico Blanco and Mescal Ridge. MODIS places one heat detection north of the river and beginning to climb toward the fire line. If this is accurate, they probably won’t wait much longer before starting their backfiring:
Here’s the fire in the Puerto Suello Creek drainage. The prominent peak is Uncle Sam Mountain. We’d thought the fire might crest Uncle Sam yesterday, giving Cachagua and parts of Carmel Valley a good display for the 4th of July – but it doesn’t look like it’s quite there yet:
The only hot spot in the Big Sur valley (that was visible to the satellite anyway) was on Post Creek:
The satellite indicates that the fire has moved east overnight, deeper into the headwaters of Lost Valley Creek. The deep canyon on the left is the Arroyo Seco River near Escondido Camp – the spot where the Indians Fire started:
On the coast, thermal imaging shows fire in Dolan Canyon and just above Rat Creek. This is likely part of the backfiring intended to secure the fire’s southwestern flank:
Hi, I’ve been checking your site among a few others over the last few days on behalf of my niece Jazmine, partner Eric, and son Haven who have been living in, and evacuated from, the area. I thank you for your most outstanding coverage. I am saddened to hear of the losses you have experienced. Here’s to strength for all in the coming days.
Want to thank you for the fire info you have posted. I am a Big Sur “x-pat”, and my heart rends at the loss caused by this fire, now and in the future (winter & rain). FYI…I don’t take ANY information posted online as factual (the NATIONAL list had the Gallery fire in the SHASTA-TRINITY forest!!), but you folks seem to be closely in touch with the situation (obviously – having lost, perhaps, your ‘cozy’ little cabin…sorry!!!!), and I have greatly appreciated reading your posts. I know the people whose places you have listed as possibly burned, and I can ‘feel’ for them by knowing something of what’s going on. Please post when and what you can, and know you’re appreciated!
I have been trying to reach Magnus and Mary Lou. They are welcome to stay in my house in Sausalito. Anyone from the Henry Miller Library that I know is welcome. I can be reached at 415-533-0986 or Elmore.Michelle@gmail.com.
You are all in my thoughts,
Michelle L. Elmore
Folks…the “surfire” website is in testing mode and we should hold off on posting to it until later today (Wednesday), re: Lisa, webmaster for the site, posted to the VWA forum: “IMPORTANT FYI – the surfire2008 website is still in testing – please hold off on posting till this afternoon!”
Surfire site is NOW up & running, and a great place to utilize to communicate.
Can someone let me know the status of Deetjen’s? And did the Henry Miller Library get saved?
Thanks for the idea of using the MODIS overlay data with Google Earth. I posted more kml files on my site including the recreation map for the northern Los Padres.
Can someone tell me the status of the Coast Gallery below Nepenthe’s on highway 1?
Thanks for doing the postings, maps, analysis etc. Really great.
We linked to you at http://www.kusp.org/fire/sur.html.
thank you for the effort to help keep us all informed. If I can be of help next weekend, I can drive down…Is Molera the best place to check in as volunteer support?
Your work has just been wonderful and indispensable. Thanks so much. And your photo this morning is a good visual display, if I’m remembering right, of what was supposed to be the 1999 “trigger” for opening the Skinner Ridge segment of the perimeter firebreak. Your photo shows why…
You guys are so unbelievably good! I have not seen a running fire-perimeter summary this good since the LPNF daily image reports for the Zaca Fire last year. Cannot thank you enough.
Have the photos of the Stone House and link been purposefully removed? I used to live up there in 1969-1970 and I was so very saddened to see it’s loss. I wanted to view them again, but can’t find the link to the photos on your site. What a paradise the Fentons had made there, loved all the flowers, and hopefully will again. Thanks – Lois
I want to thank you for your excellent coverage of these fires we are experiencing. I live just south of Naciemeinto Road ….there is no phone service in our area….most of us have satellite internet. I check your site for reliable information a couple of times a day. hanks for your time, you are doing a great job.
Henry Miller Library, Deetjen’s and Coast gallery have all been saved. Nepenthe re-opened last night. The highway is open as far as Nepenthe.
R.E. your note below,
Please note that it has since been confirmed that the old Wangoe place (now owned by Karen Madsen) did not burn. Just another example of how difficult accurate information is to come by ..
Rather than as an example of how difficult accurate information is to come by, the Wangoe house not burning should be seen as the result of careful planning and building by Richard Wangoe, who built the house incorporating design elements to withstand wildfires. Seems to have been successful. Your website is the best! HW
Although I live in town, I have many friends in Big Sur. Thanks for your daily updates. They are most valuable to me and my family.
Just a note to pass on information that a backfire set near Big Creek has gone awry and jumped the dozer line and is headed south. Work on a fire line at Nacimiento Road has begun.
Also have heard, but not confirmed, that Palo Colorado has moved beyond alert status.
The Red Cross just completed an 11:00AM Sunday morning meeting in Carmel. Mandatory evacuation for Palo Colorado will come when fire reaches trigger point, which they were told is Pico Blanco/Boy Scout Camp. They were told fire is continuing in that direction. Red Cross has set up evacuation info center at Carmel Middle School, not a shelter, but a communications center. Red Cross advises to evacuate with:
1. prescription medicines
2. ID, proof of where you live, utility bill, etc
3. Comfort clothes, toothpaste, pillow.
Red Cross website is http://www.arccarmel.org
Just a note for those that are worried about Pine Valley and Jack English…
He is fine as of this morning and has his son, a couple of guys, and a water pump armed and ready.
A call from them this morning said that the fire was in sight from the top of the rocks and maybe an hour or so away…so the thermal imaging is not exactly right (tall mountians and narrow canyons).
They also said they thought they could hear thunder and lightning…Any report of this?
P.S. I am thankful for this site!!! Keep up the good work!
The latest MODIS imagery has 6 hotspots west of the Mt. Manuel dozer line and one of them is west of Hwy 1. Is this an artifact?
I just spoke to my parents who are living near post ranch. They said the MODIS data showing fire on the Big Sur side of Mt. Manual is inaccurate. Looks to be a glitch with the Satellite.
Excellent news. I wonder what causes those artifacts?
I just looked at the web cam on Fremont Peak and it shows a thick marine layer moving in. Hopefully it will move up the river drainages and slow things down.
Great site!! I am monitoring the whole thing from my computer in Buenos Aires. Looking forward to the next postings.
Thank you for this service.
Not a reply, just some information. It is 8PM. We just spoke with a friend who has property up Hot Springs Canyon. He reports the fire is approx. 200 yards from his cabin. On Google Earth I see no such hot spots. He says the fire has come up and over the ridge (whose name I don’t know) between Buck Creek and Hot Springs Creek s heading toward his place.
You are doing such a great job!
Altho I live 400 miles south, Big Sur is still my home! Thanks for the updates, and my prayers are with everyone for their safety.
I’m posting the aerial infrared maps from the evening before on my site. I get them off a server about 7:00 AM and post them on my Basin Fire page. They are in kml format for Google Earth and Maps. They are tracking the MODIS information very well, except for this weirdness on the hillside above Big Sur. Maybe that area has vortex’s like in Sedona, AZ :-)
The IR flyover occurs in the early evening and the data is translated in Redding, CA overnight. The files are uploaded onto a NIFC server around 5:00 AM. This morning they arrived on the server at 7 AM.
For those who don’t know Google Earth there are tutorials on my map and wildfire page.
Honey..I do see red spots in Hot Springs Canyon on Google Earth this am, 7-2.
My parents who live on the ridge near Posts said the fire broke a line on the North Coast Ridge, and is now headed to the gorge. As far as I know, thats the reason for the latest evac’s in the valley.
the fire has jumped the fire breaks to the south of the gorge and is burning down toward ventana into the post creek watershed, choppers are working on it . looks like the next break is the highway
Regarding public information, authorized information, people on the ground, and people with their heads in the clouds. From the very beginning of the wreck of the Exxon Valdez, it was apparent that many large scale concerns were not being addressed for lack of planning, lack of community right-to-know, lack of proper work conditions, inexcusable lack of equipment. Similarly, Antioch College’s Arthur Morgan wrote a book at the end of his life called Dams and Other Disasters by the Army Corps of Engineers, a view poplularized later by both John McPhee and NOVA television programming about floods on the Upper Mississippi in the mid 1990s. Flooding is happening again today. Morgan’s views could apply to the disaster in New Orleans, as well. I have direct experience in all three of these realms, for having worked there, in person.
Even six months after the Valdez wreck, the Coast Guard and Exxon could not get their command structure settled during a tsunami warning, so as to decide ‘who was in control.’ I was there. I heard the radio traffic, because I was an ordinary working citizen who had not been evacuated the way hundreds if not thousands of others had been. In this kind of circumstance, in Alaska or on the Mississippi or in Big Sur, it is very plain that the most knowledgeable people are those who are literally on the ground. Thus, the brains — of anyone ‘managing’ such a disaster response — will be under the hats of those citizens working in the field. Without a democratic process to recognize and ACT upon feedback given by the courageous many who risk their lives for the whole community, we will not have decent steering by the very few. Among other matters, those who worked on the oil spill have NEVER yet had systematic health studies for their exposures yet…twenty years afterwards! Furthermore, Exxon covered up the exposures of about seven thousand workers who reported respiratory illnesses.
We won’t make that mistake here, will we? Health monitoring for the citizens affected by the fire should begin now! Ask the citizens affected by the Trade Towers disaster! Their health studies have already started, thanks to an agency formed to do just that, led by a former Chief of Occupational Health for California Department of Health Services. Naturally, once health issues are evaluated, proper health CARE can be delivered, including long term studies and long term care. These are some of the issues most important for those who are engulfed in the every day war of providing safety and security for our region in the middle of a Blaze which is apparently out of control. They are issues that arise for every responder and clean up worker for every disaster any time, any where. My particular expertise comes from decades of experience. Our many concerns have only been barely addressed. It is clear that this kind of site is another way to provide reasonable communication for those afflicted by this fire, this smoke, this smoky poison oak, by the loss of homes and liveliehoods. When it is over, and it will be, we shall not forget the efforts of the responders who have done everything they can to stop this disaster from spreading…especially those who have fought the war on the ground.
While this only discussed one type case, with a more general perspective, it is to be hoped that other citizens will be encouraged to participate raising their own concerns about issues which will clearly have as much importance as the particular case of health concerns for workers and Big Sur citizens alike. If we do not take matters into our own hands and act upon them with our own brains — with participatory democracy in the process — the very few at the top cannot possibly fight the fire nor develop a reasonable recovery.
Yours, With Many of My Friends in Mind, Jeff
I found the Stone House photos again. Thank you so much for all your diligent coverage of this disastrous fire. My heart goes out to all in Big Sur, their losses and displacement. As a former resident, and frequent visitor, my heart will always be there, “home”.
The Nepenthe web-cam, which appears to have been repositioned from its normal, south-facing disposition — perhaps to face the north? — is showing the bright orange glow of fire tonight (1 a.m. Thurs.) from behind a line of trees in the foreground. In some frames over the past 20 minutes it appears you can see flames directly. I hope the camera lens is exaggerating the proximity of this fire to the Nepenthe veranda (or that it is a midnight backburning operation being conducted by firemen), but it is a worrisome sight.
Like others I am thankful for the updates this site has been providing.
the three houses that are above Ventana have burned
Do you have any information on the New Camaldoli Hermitage?
What 3 houses above Ventana burned? There are many homes as you go up the Coast Ridge Road behind Ventanta..does he mean the three closest to Ventana or those further back in the hills (the road goes back for miles)? Any clarification is appreciated…
whats the deal with Old Coast Road?
i think Ernie should pack his things up and split. his house is up top of Bonifacio Hill off of Old Coast Rd, north of Pico Blanco.
ALL OF THIS IS JUST MY OPINION AND IS NOT CONFIRMED… AS I understood it, at least 3 houses that go further back in the hills had already been lost shortly after the fire started. I may be mistaken, however. If you want to email me directly, I’ll share the information I have (in terms of individuals who lost their homes earlier), but I don’t want to do that in a public format., but the 3 houses referred to by Mark are, I believe, the ones very close behind Ventana. I can’t remember the names, but I have met one of those couples, and another is a musician. firstname.lastname@example.org
Any update since June 29 on Pine Valley / Jack English?
Thanks for the site–great up-to-date information, though heartbreaking.
Those light blue dots are scenic photos in Google Earth that have nothing to do with the fire. Someone just accidentally left the scenic photo markers on when exporting that image.
That would be us – Xasauan Today
To correct my earlier post: 7/3 10:30 AM THIS JUST IN FROM STAN… “ALSO NON OFFICIAL”:
“Here’s what we’ve got from personal experience last night. Dan Priano, Butch & Patti Kronlund, Martine, Mark Sullivan, Martine and Mike watched the fire from Billy Post’s house at Post Ranch Inn. We’ve set up our communication center here.
Last night fire moved down off the ridge and we watched as Nancy and Fred Golog House, Howard and Pam Conant House (AKA known as Ventana’s Tower House) and Judge Bill Burley’s House burned. We could see fire along the ridge from Apple Pie to Mule Canyon. It is continuing to progress down the canyons. Ventana Inn is still okay. “
Can any post an answer to what very light blue dots are are now appearing on the Modis maps? In many cases they appear to be right along Hwy 1 . . .
Again, thank you so much for all your diligence in mainting this site.
Patrick – Thank you for quick reply!
I haven’t seen updates as current on any other site.
I am suprised that news of confimed burning of the 3 homes above Ventana – posted by residents watching who knew owners and gave their names, hasn’t been updated anywhere that I can find.
Again, thank you for this site.
Can anyone shed light on this statement from the 8:30 pm July 2 update from this site: “He [Mike Dietrich} further said that, with the fire having breached the (presumably Dolan Ridge) containment line, the Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd. is the new southern containment line.” And the excerpt here as well from the Firefighters blog; “Fire has jumped the southern containment lines threatening the community of Lucia. Attempting to hold a secondary dozer line with limited resources.” Those I’ve spoken to close to the planned Dolan Ridge backfire line report that to their knowledge the backfire has been postponed due to the desperate situation to the north which I presume is true and supported by 2:00 pm July 3 update under planned actions: ” Conduct firing operations to check fire spread along Hwy 1 and on Dolan Ridge.” Any further news on this appreciated. To Mary Kay: The Hermitage is as of this posting is fine. We have been able to drive north from Pacific Valley to Lucia Lodge as the closure to the south has been moved (north) from Limekiln to there. Residents at Lucia are wary but calm.
Please, is Deetjen’s still standing? Such a special place… we so want to return. We would love to hear, if someone knows and has time. Thanks, and my thoughts are with all of you in Big Sur. Please stay safe and take care of each other. I’ll be checking back, or email me: email@example.com
Shelly this may be a repeat email – system glitched in the middle of the first one and it disasppeard.
In any case, at the top of the Xasauan Ventana Fire Info page there is a link in red
“media fire photos.” There are 108 photos – one in the first 3o was taken at deetjens
today. There is another, I think it # 81 – good photo but taken several days ago.
I hope this helps. Jil
Folks – In Tonya’s post today, she verified that 3 houses above Ventana had burned last night. If you go to the AP Fire Photo’s link listed at the top of this page, there are 108 photos, 2 of which show fire fighters standing by houses that burned yesterday. That would make 5 more and the ‘official” number never changes.
Another is thing is – our illustrious govenor committed National Guard Troops to assist with the fire fighting. WHERE ARE THEY? Certainly the ranks are both thin and exhausted the face of this aggressive fire. if anyone knows about this, could you please post. If anyone in Carmel is going to the meeting tonight, could you ask about this? Thank you. Jil
new fire blog with firsthand info
i am wondering if anyone has any details about my grandparent’s old homestead – the knoll (ewoldsen) – [between pheneger and juan hiquera, above the big sur campground]. my cousin eric is getting a little info, and we’ve heard bits from ken wright, but nothing definite about the area at that elevation. i see new hotspots on MODIS and hear about flames in juan hiquera, but don’t know at what part those are. i’d like to get an update to my mom if anyone has any direct info…
good luck to all there and friends and family, and thank you very much for this site – it has been a wealth of information even more so than some official channels.
My husband, Ron, is currently at Post Ranch Inn. He has been sending me pictures during the day. I have posted them on the web at http://www.freewebs.com/adcoxfamilysite/
Just talked to Ross Curtis on apple pie, they have not lost any structures yet. The fire around Ventana Inn seems to be under control I went out a 4am so I could see the hot spots in the dark and It looked pretty good around there. Further down the post creek drainage there are numerous hot spots burning down, hopefully there are crews at the bottom clearing and getting ready to back burn from the bottom so It doesn’t come up this side
Does anyone know if Clovis and Grady are okay? We love them a lot.
Any news of Pheneger Creek &/or BS Campground?
re bs campground: no, haven’t. but i heard don mcqueen refused to evac, and that he’s got all his machinery at his disposal… sorry that’s not more
First, DEEPEST THANKS to all who maintain this site…it has been an invaluable resource in keeping the wider community of people with connections to New Camaldoli Hermitage informed about what is happening with the fire. All of you in the Big Sur area are in our thoughts and prayers (and I’m typing this from Pittsburgh, PA).
For Mary Kay and anyone else wanting information about New Camaldoli – the monks evacuated the Hermitage on Tuesday, July 1, and are staying at a retreat center near Santa Cruz. There is a small group of monks remaining at the Hermitage to work with firefighters (same strategy was used in dealing with the Limekiln fire of 1999).
How is the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park doing? How is it labeled on your maps? I ache for all of you! Thank you for the detailed fire coverage your site is providing.
was just up to the top of clear ridge looking across the big sur valley. fire has reached the highway in east molera around the firing range. still burning hot in the south fork of juan higera. at 11pm last night juan higera was raging. apple pie looks great. fire continues behind capt cooper. little change there in the past 36 hours.
My prayers are with all of you! I wish I was there stompin the embers out along side you. Big Sur and the BS Campground hold so many happy memories for me and my family over the last 47 years. Best of luck to all of you, your strong determination and fortitude is what Big Sur is made of. I will keep watching for your victory.
Thank you for the fantastic coverage! We lived in Big Sur many years ago as my family (The Davey’s ) owned Fernwood for more than 25 years! We lived there during the huge fire in the 70’s which burned an entire month. We truly understand how horrifying this danger is and this fire is worse as it is right in your “backyards”. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. If there is anything we can do….. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
More help is needed, please put pressure on your political representatives and let the media know we need more help down here in Big Sur. The Federal and State assistance seems strangely absent. Many more structures are actively being threatened. More structures than reported have been lost. While the officials are doing everything within their power to help prevent structures from being destroyed, many locals are providing on -the -ground, hands -on action, and doing an amazing job. It is my hope the officials will continue to work with them and at the very least not interfere with their valiant efforts to save their homes and their community.
I was on-site 6pm July 3rd, it was eerily quiet, with flames on every mountainside.
Where are the bombers? Where are the choppers? Why aren’t the dozers creating fire breaks? Why doesn’t anyone respond to 911 calls? (I heard 9 calls were made from a local residence with flames being beaten out by hand on three sides of their home, and no response was made to their calls for help. By the way, they have a paved road. One rumor flying about is that the officials are loath to undertake operations on dirt roads.)
Nightly meetings continue at Carmel Middle School at 7pm. Please attend and offer any support you can. Local evacuated residence need places to stay. If you have a place to offer or other services you can post them on surfire2008.org
Thanks for all your good thoughts. Keep the wind calm.
Suggest people alos look into Twitter, http://twitter.com/ Twitter is a microblogging platform that doubles as an Instant Messaging Service that reaches the Web. You can post and receive from your cell or from the Web. (San Diego used it during their fires, and people around the world followed.) if you have information, post a tweet, a message <=140 characters, on Twitter.
KSBW is posting updates on Twitter, http://twitter.com/ksbw Look at the news stations that KSBW is following for others using Twitter. Follow, and you will receive their updates.
If you want to track a subject, such as Big Sur Fire, use Summize. Here is a result for this on Summize: http://summize.com/search?q=big+sur+fire
We, the people, are now the best reporters! Again, thank you, Keith!
Just spoke with some of our friends and family who are within the fire zone in Big Sur:
Update on Torre Engineering:
After an all night and all day battle at the McQueen home, this afternoon the Blaze crew and Don McQueen at Phenenger Creek had the fire under control but because of the lack of support they have lost control they believe, even five more people could have kept things together!
The media continues to report that things are relatively calm in Big Sur and they’ve moved on to focus on Santa Barbara. Nothing is calm in Big Sur, please tell everyone. We can still save homes and our community, but we need help.
“All’s not quiet on the Western Front”
Here at Bixby Canyon and Mesa, we have the best of all worlds…the mandatory evacuation makes us stay home,…the the wind keeps the fire far from us–important things like baby albums and videos are safe in town—and we are safe here with no fire….we had a great, slightly drunken canyon 4th of July gathering–lots of groceries on hand–7K gallons of firewater aned 3 fire hydrants plus a tractor with a blade–it’s really just our geographical location that saves us–(we hope!!!) on a rocky outcropping with not much local fuel–cement walls and a metal roof–Rita, Dana Godbe sends you her love–Tara and the Morgenrath clan–keep up the good balance between good valley citizens and ridge runners….we will too. Love, Dana Godbe (now Carnazzo)
These Center for Disease Control sites have a number of discussions about health effects of wild fires, such as their smokes. Googling the words “Wild fires” also brings up discussion about the science of smokes…incluyendo articulos sobre incendios destructivos.
Especial concern arises with things like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are in ‘tars’ of cigarette smoke, and petroleum products from crude oil to burned fuels, whether from petroleum or from the forests. A second very serious concern arises with socalled particulate matter, ‘particularly’ that which is small enough to get deep into the lungs. A measure of small being expressed as 10 PM, for Particulate Matter of 10 microns, and the especially poisonous and toxic 2.5 PM.
These issues are more important these days, since the science has been advancing recently, rapidly. Meetings of 500 citizens at a time have been held in Los Angeles with a focus on these public and community health matters. Childrens’ asthmas are likely to arise causing health care costs and missed school days. Annual meetings are being held to address the issues by environmental agencies and industries about the effects of particulates and poisons like PAHs…These are happening all along the West Coast. Research on PAHs has been particularly interesting with regard to scientific findings developed by scientists doing follow up ecological studies of the Prince William Sound after the wreck of the Valdez. Particulate matter and PAHs are in diesel exhaust from heavy equipment as well as wild fire smokes. So it would be wise for all those working these fires, and all community members affected by these fires, to have as much actionable information to protect ourselves from these health hazards…
These protections especially include the engineering of equipment and the design of work processes, particularly including work schedules and timed exposure limits. Personal protective gear is a last resort, and may be altogether unusable in certain circumstances. Nevertheless, severe chronic health conditions can arise from these burn products. We all deserve appropriate action to measure health effects, and receive health care for these effects. Health registries to study these matters can be developed very quickly by agencies charged with public health protections.
Throughout this vital period we are learning a great deal on many fronts, but one thing is patching together the loved, hiked and lived in terrain through the remarkable birdseye view modelling of GoogleEarth. In particular, your place markers, apart from grass roots information at a time of real need, are really helpful and I wonder if you good backwoods grouch types might like to share your .kmz file with us backwoods grouch types. Or publish on google earth for all?? Would be really appreciated.
One of the current difficulties now is that locals that are staying with their homes are not being allowed to go over to neighbor houses and help their neighbors. How can an American be arrested for helping their neighbor protect their home against fire?
YES! our friends on Apple Pie are a great example; why are officials not working WITH the people who know the area best? Where is the communication?!
Thank you for this website. You published the first map that I could understand and wrap my mind around where exactly the fire was happening.
I have to ask, who runs this site? I think I went to high school with you–’76 Monterey High?
Would appreciate your taking a look at the implications of the temperature increase and wind direction shift (to offshore) forecast for the next few days.,… What areas are likely to be most affected? Where are the spots where mild to strong offshore winds could push fire/embers beyond the Highway One containment line? What do people need to be prepared for? Things like that….
Personally, I am particularly interested in the unfolding weather implications for the Esalen Institute over the next few days.
Thank you for your refreshing reporting and invaluable insights on this blog.
The people on Apple Pie Ridge represent the spirit that should be admired and assisted, not thwarted and harrassed. Many of them HAVE firefighting experience and training and it should be anyones basic right to fight for their own, or their neighbors homes.
No one is holding any government agency responsible for their safety. So HELP them, or at least allow them to re-supply themselves. and the same for anyone else in that situation. FIGHT ON.
I commend the efforts of firefighters and leaders all over this state for their hard work and co-operation with EACH OTHER, now extend that respect and co-operation to the people who’s homes are threatened
I strongly believe that this Apple Pie Crew are more heros than the criminals they’re making them out to be. Give me a break. This is their home and this is America, and this should be their freedom. These are some of the most giving, caring, nicest guys I have ever met. I know this from being around them and the community. I am outraged by the lack of respect and support from some of the firemen and police that have approached them.
I am not saying the firefighters are all like this. I am grateful for what they’re doing, but whoever is in control here is putting their ego in the front line and not helping the people who are really trying to help.
Much love to you all on Apple Pie. You have people supporting you in Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, Florida, Seattle, Colorado, Oregon, Santa Cruz, Big Sur and tons more. You’re in all our prayers. We stand by you!!!
Just received this at 10pm Saturday from a friend at Esalen:
“A new OES Strike Team just arrived to inform us they would be starting backfires in this area. They hope to burn to the road throughout this immediate area tonight and tomorrow before a change in the weather causes bigger problems.”
Sounds smart to me.
The Apple Pie “guiding of the fire” was on the back side of the ranch with no neighbors except for Hans and Ester Ewoldsons, one ridge over- @4 miles away, (Pfeiffer BS State Park is named after her father) which had already burned. Many people in this beautiful mountainous area have a Plan A, B, and C in case of fire. MJ
Here’s a link to a site with a few videos of the fire burning around Mt Pico and in the area surrounding Pico Blanco Scout Reservation:
Why are you calling Bixby Mountain Mescal Ridge? Mescal ridge is located in the lower left hand corner just above the yellow bulldozere line, and what you are calling Mescal ridge is actually Bixby mountain
Bixby Mountain is a part of Mescal Ridge. It is, in fact, the high point of Mescal Ridge – Xasauan Today
I, as well as Tony, think that the western border near Buck Creek and Esalen need to have the back fire process started before the winds pick up and we have something real to worry about: so far the marine layer has protected us…not for too much longer. I hope the strike team acts as they claim, so far this AM I see little evidence of this.
Ross and Micah Curtis have successfully fought through three such fires. their defense of their home during the last Molera fire acted as a buffer for the rest of us in the valley. They know what works. Hang in there Ross, David and Micah!!! Best of luck, and take care. Hugh Rideout
I wrote the following to the editors at the Herald and it is in the Sunday edition (guest commentary) as it appears here with only the loss of a few words:
Our experience in Big Sur since lightning touched down in Grimes’ Canyon has been a devastating thing. We have been harassed by an impersonal pervasive force that seems to be everywhere, limiting our movements, appearing unexpectedly and unwelcome.
Unfortunately, I’m referring not only to the Basin Complex Fire but to the mindless, arbitrary authority residents in Big Sur have been subjected to since the fire began. I live just outside the current restricted area on the south coast–what I’ve experienced in the counterfeit name of safety and welfare angers and saddens me. Indiscriminate decisions have been made affecting many people’s lives adversely, perhaps more so than the fire itself.
The arbitrary “hard” closure of Highway 1 has cut us off from essential services, our livelihoods and loved ones. Accounts of ill-treatment by authorities abound. We look over our shoulders wondering if we’ll be apprehended when we venture down the highway to check on neighbors and catch up on the news or maybe get a few supplies before sneaking back to our homes. Residents have been chased up ridge roads and forced to hide when they just want to grab a few things from their homes like the family photographs and records.
Responsible community leaders’ intelligent input and attempts at intervention based on years of living in Big Sur have been met with stonewalling and a one-fits-all mentality when a need for flexibility and mindful listening are paramount, particularly for those in charge unfamiliar to dealing with the area, not to mention human needs. It’s a well-documented fact that at least one high-ranking, non-local official conducting a community meeting had only a vague idea of the locations he was referring to when presenting his fire report.
Instead of exemplifying a reassuring, calming demeanor, officials have at times disseminated incendiary, irresponsible, misrepresentation of danger (particularly when authorities reported erroneously that the fire had jumped to west side of Highway 1) causing terrified residents to flee prematurely, leaving behind essential items and undone protective structure measures with tragic results. Residents anxious to return to homes no longer endangered have been denied access and threatened. Access to miles of highway with little or no fire activity has been inexplicably barred. A resident driving within the closure area but many miles south of the actual fire was threatened with arrest when attempting to fulfill job responsibilities nearby to home. Additionally, the driving restrictions have caused businesses to close when they could otherwise be serving local needs.
Who is responsible for this unproductive heavy-handedness? I hope it’s someone I can vote against when re-election comes up. Is it Incident Command? Is it the Sheriff’s Department? When questioned about the source of policies we’ve been forced to live under, Incident Command and the Sheriff’s Department seem to recognize the egregious effects of the decisions made by pointing the finger at one another instead of taking credit.
The heartless nature of the fire is expected but that of the authorities is heartbreaking.
It’s important to remeber that these fires were caused by lightning strikes, not man. Fire has been a part of the ongoing ecosystem in the coastal ranges for thousands of years – nothing new here.
What is new is our activities that prevented nourishing, cleansing fires from burning for many years, leading to too much dry fule for the mega-fires we see today and in the past, such as the Marble Cone fire of ’77. Also relativeley new is human encroachment upon the forest – building homes in areas that are prone to fire is like the residents of New Orleans who choose to live below sea and river level. You must take responsability for the consequences of living in areas prone to natural disaster.
That said, I have enjoyed backpacking in the Ventana Wilderness all my life, and am confident I will continue to do so, regardless of the fire.
Nature has a way of restoring balance.
I am saddened that the Herald published Connie McCoy’s letter. “Authorities” are people, too. Tired, hard-working, putting themselves in the line-of-fire (literally) kind of people.
They are trying to assemble a plan in the midst of a crisis, on little sleep, and with rapidly changing information. Frank Pinney emphasized, even before the evacuation, that this fire is big and dangerous and unpredictable.
I am glad that the #1 priority is to fight the fire, not hand-hold local residents. I watch the number of homes lost with my fingers crossed every day, praying that the fire-fighters will somehow, someway, find the strength to cut more, climb more, struggle more against this raging fire. The line they have to maintain is huge. Having non-rescue traffic on the main road would be stupid. Taking time out to answer every question would be wasteful. I just want them to fight the fire. Yes, I chose to evacuate, so I’m not on the ground. But to already start criticizing their handling of this extremely unpredictable and dangerous situation is so ungrateful and naive it makes my heart ache for the people fighting this fire. I hope they never read it.
In response to the latest rash of complaints about the treatment of locals in big sur.
The situation is being handled in accordance wih the law.
It is easy to point the finger when you are not responsable.
The people who are in charge are doing the best they can and are following the rules ad regulations and laws adopted by the state of california.
Some states have a mandatory evacuation law period including your own property.
This is for the safety of all people involved,including firefighters and saftey officials,they are respnsable for everyone.
This is a tough job with stress and resposability you cant even imagine,so lets give a little support and praise to those who have chosen this responsability,and who are trying thier best to do thier job to the best of thier ability,we have a local firefigting battalion with an eletected oficial representing big sur.
I dont think anyone involved with this fire has any mal intention,or is in any way oppposd to helping,maybe it is a bigger picture that is not easily understood by all.
Thanks to all who are fighting this fire and good luck.
p.s sorry for the poor grammar and mis spelling I hope this is understood
I went and looked at my notes from the community meeting. Frank said it’s a lifetime fire. By that, I think he meant he’s not seen anything like it before and probably won’t again.
This fire has way-surpassed the final Marble-Cone fire lines, at least on the north and western flanks, and it’s currently only 5% contained. And the fire-fighting infrastructure is spread thin over the entire state due to other fires. An extra thank you to the fire-fighters helping out from all over the country. I heard that 41 states are currently represented. What would we do without Frank and Martha there to translate?
Hey…Connie…you’ve GOT to be kidding me…don’t suppose you’ve entertained the idea of cutting everyone some slack here…people are doing the best they can with what they have to work with… Apparently you have plenty of time to dis the people who are trying to help us…why not take some of that time and angry energy and do something proactive instead? I agree with birdsong22…I hope the firefighters never read your “dis-sertation”. Everyone is running on “stresspower” and the waiting wears on people’s patience…lots of “chemical imbalance” happening because of that stress. Why not take a deep breath and send love and well-wishing energy toward the efforts? THAT collective consciousness will be more fulfilling than the emptying of negative energy all over everything. This is a very important time for everyone and an opportunity to watch your own mind and how it deals with this stress. Lots of growth potential to be had here. Rainbow light to all! Stay safe and loving.
A couple of ideas/thoughts today:
First: we’re not talking much about the people who experienced the Indians fire; some are STILL mandatorily (word?) evacuated ! And some are still threatened? It may seem far away, but that’s just the “other side of the hill”, and they need our thoughts, and perhaps our help as well. AND…there’s Palo Colorado…and all the ‘neighbors’ there. I have been finding myself absorbed by the happenings in Big Sur “proper” (if that word could EVER be used for the place.. ;) ), and not thinking much outside of that. Time, at least for me, to broaden the scope of the situation for myself.
Second, being as far away as I am, I can’t do much for the land and my ‘family’ in Big Sur, Carmel Valley, and beyond, except stay in touch, stay informed, and help how I can. In the meantime, I have decided to look into the Emergency Response Plan (if there is one) here where I am currently living (Ashland, Oregon), and see how it’s put together. I was thinking while driving in town today: What would happen if an electric storm like the one down there happened HERE? Maybe that’s something good that can come out of the mess of this Big Sur fire/situation: everyone not *there* can look to their own community (while grieving the losses in the Ventana), and see what to expect in an emergency. Couldn’t hurt…especially in these times of changing and intensifying weather patterns, and tightening political climate.
And third, the ‘end’ of this fire is the beginning of a whole lot of work. There’s the clean-up, rebuilding, regrouping, replanting, and on and on….AND preparation for any Winter rains that may come. If they do…and we have to hope for SOME..the length of highway that this fire has burned down to (or been back-fired from) will be severely challenged to stay open (no slides or fall-aways), and the properties that have burned will be subject to much erosion and slide danger as well. I plan to be available ‘after’ the fire to help.
Just some thoughts from *too* far away!
Thank you for your excellent coverage. My heart goes out to all of you coping with the fire and all it brings. I live in Kelowna, BC Canada, but spend a great deal of time in the Carmel/Big Sur area every year — it renews me, gives centering, as I am sure it does for many, so I deeply, compassionately felt what you were/still are going through. I, too, have had experience with events such as these — five years ago, we had a massive fire sweep through our valley, from a lightening strike in a provincial park, that when it was done, a large reserve park was destroyed, 234 homes gone (luckily, no lives & very few injuries), and a series of ancient train tressels from the Kettle Valley Railway that were being used as a beautiful bike trail went up in horrific flames all could see for miles. It was hard, but 5 years later, the ground has been renewed, homes rebuilt, and this year, the tressels rebuilt, stronger than ever. It took alot of healing, but it’s getting better, and the community really pulled together to replant trees & native flowers, clean up & support each other. I had made plans to visit Big Sur this fall & am still looking forward to coming & supporting a part of the world that has affected & inspired my life so strongly. Do what you need to do & value all the things that went right. I send you all the kindest wishes & regards.
To the open arms of Big Sur that held me for the last couple years, sending my most heartfelt love and deepest wishes of strength to those still there fighting this fire.
Thank you for the great information. I’ve been monitoring you and Surfire here in Carmel Valley for the most accurate and timely news. Today the DC-10 and the National Guard (?) bombers are flying directly over the house to make their runs toward the north perimeter. We crossed the valley up on El Caminito and watched Uncle Sam (I think, its the highest peak from this side) go up like a volcano about an hour and a half ago. Flames were visible with the naked eye and we are about 10 miles away.
Also have been thinking about an acceptable method for the “repopulation” strategy. If you could pass my thoughts on to Frank and Martha I’d appreciate it.
Once the imminent danger and threat to the physical landscape is over, it is essential that the Community be preserved. In my experience, the unusual strength and resiliency of this community is that all pitch in to help each other in times of crisis. We are good at it, and at the moment, this valuable resource is not being utilized.
As far as infrastructure rebuilding goes, once the immediate threat is over, residents, business owners, and essential personnel should be allowed to return to help with the infrastructure rebuilding. cleanup, and preparation to re-open.
If non-safety traffic clogging the highway is a major concern, then convoys/curfews could be used locally and to and from town. Its not that difficult to set up a routine that all could follow in the short term. Perhaps someone has already suggested this, perhaps not. But its a starting point.
Heading off to work in town with your mattress on your roof and tent in the back is an inconvenience–not a tragedy. I think it’s dumb to have the road closed around Bixby Canyon–but I’m not going to whine about it. My husband and dogs are safe at home on the Bixby Mesa–and my teenagers are thrilled to be ‘stuck’ in town–
Our place feels so safe…but when I look at how far the fire has come since it began–those 5 miles don’t seem quite so far.
Support the fire fighters and the renegades. Everyone is workiing hard.
I’m no expert, but one implication of the latest (Sun) MODIS images is that there is plenty of fire burning to the east of coastal areas that will thus be threatened if the predicted potential OFFshore winds materialize to any great degree. At present, there is no indication from the weather models that this will happen — winds are forecast as basically calm — but that could easily change, especially on Tuesday night. They’ve gotta keep going on the backfiring from Highway One while/if they still can.
While you have done an excellent job providing timely Basin Complex fire information, I find your “editorial comment” out of keeping with the balance of your work.
In my experience in several rural communities (including Big Sur), the blanket comment that the key privilege of being an adult, is the level of risk one is willing to accept is, in my opinion unsupported by the fact that the some of the “adults,” do not have the experience, to determine the level of risk they are assuming. This has the very real potential to place emergency responders at risk.
When you are responding to an incident, it is often difficult to determine which “adult” (informed vs. uniformed) you are dealing with.
While it my be difficult for you, for a period of time, support your Fire Brigade and the other 2,000 plus responders by being tolerant of the complex and dynamic nature of a fire of this size.
We believe adults do have the ability to make decisions about their personal safety, regardless of level of experience. Emergency responders, like everyone else, need to make their own decisions about the level of risk they are willing to accept. We agree completely, though, that everyone should support the firefighters and do nothing that could interfere with their work – Xasauan Today
Glad to be back online and catching up. Thanks for all the news here.
Sad to say there is a big difference between what the actual firefighters are doing (obviously a heroic job, no one has questioned that) and some of the people in control who are making life more difficult– words of support to them are difficult to find. Yes, they are people too, but there are people who do there jobs with compassion and others as if they are are moonlighting from their regular police state jobs. I would like to be a serene “happy idiot” (Jackson Brown’s words, not mine) as well, but its been pretty hard lately.
You have it backwards, Mescal Ridge is a ridge that run down the western slope of Bixby Mountain.
Check you topo maps if you don’t believe me.
To quote from Donald Clark’s Monterey County Place Names: “Mescal Ridge: This ridge, running E to W, extends from the W side of Bottchers Gap in NWQ sec.24T18S R1E to the junction of Sierra and Bixby Creeks in Sec. 17 about 1 m from the Pacific. Bixby Mountain (2920 ft) and Bonifacio Hill (2290 ft) are its highest points.” We stand by our description of Bixby Mtn. as a part of Mescal Ridge – Xasauan Today
There are two sides to the story between the sheriff and the locals, and I know I have a personal bias, after 30 years of battling police agencies on behalf of clients. I have learned that the truth is somewhere on the spectrum between these two stories, or sides. It is a sliding truth, that finds an equalibrium somewhere on the scale, according to the beliefs of those sliding it. There is no one truth, for this, or any other story. There are many. It is not an either/or situation, it is more like a this-AND-that situation.Yes, the safety of the firefighters is important, and so is the life of a family, who have been born and grown up in the same house. They do not have to be exclusive. There are ways to make it work for everyone, without creating hostility, mistrust, or worse. In fact, it is IMPORTANT to make it work, for all of us, living, fighting, and working here.
I have never seen or heard anyone criticizing the firefighters on the ground. Perhaps the command, but NEVER the firefighters on the ground, on dozers, or in the air.
During this crisis, we are all stressed to the max, angry, hurt, fearful, and sometimes just numb. Remember, we all handle stress differently. Some strike out, some close down. We need to honor the way each other deal with this crisis, and recognize that at this time, more than any other, we really need to be kind to one another.
Dear Xasauan Today,
Thank you for providing such timely and accurate information. You are the first place I turn to learn what’s going on in Big Sur.
Having said that, I completely disagree with your statement that “adults … have the ability to make decisions about their personal safety” and the broader conclusion that it is an individual choice whether to comply with the directives of the authorities.
I don’t know how carefully you’ve thought this through, but your belief would give “adults” (however that’s defined) license to drive 100 miles an hour in a school zone, drink and drive, and a whole host of other activities based simply on the individual’s determination of risk to personal safety. Unless you’re living a completely self-centered existence, that won’t work.
I think the same principle is at play here. True, it is a tremendous hardship for people to be asked to leave their homes indefinitely. And it may also be true that those directives were not well considered. Nonetheless, it is the law, and your remedy is to either elect people to change the law, petition for an ballot initiative to accomplish the same end, or to disobey and suffer the consequences. It is no defense to exclaim that you considered the risks involved and found them outweighed by your personal freedoms. We do not live in a society of absolute freedom, but instead, in one of relative freedom. Put another way, we all may have freedom of speech, but none of us may yell fire in a crowded theatre because of the risk that poses to our fellow moviegoers.
Thanks again for the great coverage.
We completely disagree with your characterization of our remarks. We did not say that it was an individual choice whether to comply with the directives of authorities. We said that authorities should not try to make choices for us that rightfully belong to us. Choosing how much level of risk YOU are willing to accept is not the same thing as choosing to place OTHERS (be they school children in the crosswalk or other drivers) at risk. Driving 100 miles per hour in a school zone would place people at risk who have no choice in the matter. Staying home to fight fire around your house does not. And it is also not “the law” that people must leave their homes when a mandatory evacuation is ordered – Xasauan Today
Well it seems like there has sparked quite a debate over the authorative actions during this crisis.
I think it is good to have a healthy informed perspective,and to see the situation from all angles.
I personally have been helping as much as I can with some friends in the upper palo canyon area,and believe me I am the last person to support any kind of authorative rule without regard.
I simply feal that we all know the rules and as adults it is unfair to complain about it after the fact.
I also want to commend this site and surfire2008 for being the only sites that have had any reliable,usable info durig this event.I have been relaying the information from these sites and the firefighters I know diretly to friends of mine who are comited to staying and defending thier homes.
Thank you Thank you Thank you
And please keep it up
My read on the the IC’s vague answer about the east head (in your 8:00 pm update) is that front is the lowest priority at the moment. I am sure he is concentrating on the north and inside Big Sur village.
Remember he is poorly staffed and has to make choices. The only real problem for him on the east is Tassajara and it sounds like they have an army covering the compound.
My read on the east head. IMO they intend to tie in to the Indians Fire western flank. This will define the south and S/E. Once he caps off the north head they will use firing techniques in union with dozer lines to box in the east and N/E.
Can’t know for sure but that’s my best guess.
Keep up the good work.
We agree. And we admit we’ve probably been too hard on Mike Dietrich, who certainly does have more than enough on his plate. We just wish the USFS, with its small army of full-time “information officers” would give the public the kind of detailed information about where the fire is and what they expect it to do that they share around on their own servers – and do it in a TIMELY fashion. We’ve never considered ourselves particularly organized and we’re updating this site umpteen times per day while working full time at our real jobs. How hard can posting a few reports per day as they come out really be? – Xasauan Today
Come on now people…. This is an amazing site you are maintaining as you struggle to maintain your dignity and safety while being hassled with people in a position of authority. I hope the dialog continues after this event as what is happening ,arrests and making people sneak around for food and friendship is nuts!
Keep up the spirit and this will be behind you soon.
Thank you for the information, your time, energy, and generosity of spirit.
Thank you also for your editorial comments.
Much healing and love sent to all of you impacted by the fires – residents and firefighters alike.
Actually, it is the law: see California Penal Code Section 409.5:
409.5. (a) Whenever a menace to the public health or safety is
created by a calamity including a flood, storm, fire, earthquake,
explosion, accident, or other disaster, officers of the Department of
the California Highway Patrol, police departments, marshal’s office
or sheriff’s office, any officer or employee of the Department of
Forestry and Fire Protection designated a peace officer by
subdivision (g) of Section 830.2, any officer or employee of the
Department of Parks and Recreation designated a peace officer by
subdivision (f) of Section 830.2, any officer or employee of the
Department of Fish and Game designated a peace officer under
subdivision (e) of Section 830.2, and any publicly employed full-time
lifeguard or publicly employed full-time marine safety officer while
acting in a supervisory position in the performance of his or her
official duties, may close the area where the menace exists for the
duration thereof by means of ropes, markers, or guards to any and all
persons not authorized by the lifeguard or officer to enter or
remain within the enclosed area. If the calamity creates an
immediate menace to the public health, the local health officer may
close the area where the menace exists pursuant to the conditions set
forth in this section.
(b) Officers of the Department of the California Highway Patrol,
police departments, marshal’s office or sheriff’s office, officers of
the Department of Fish and Game designated as peace officers by
subdivision (e) of Section 830.2, or officers of the Department of
Forestry and Fire Protection designated as peace officers by
subdivision (g) of Section 830.2 may close the immediate area
surrounding any emergency field command post or any other command
post activated for the purpose of abating any calamity enumerated in
this section or any riot or other civil disturbance to any and all
unauthorized persons pursuant to the conditions set forth in this
section whether or not the field command post or other command post
is located near to the actual calamity or riot or other civil
(c) Any unauthorized person who willfully and knowingly enters an
area closed pursuant to subdivision (a) or (b) and who willfully
remains within the area after receiving notice to evacuate or leave
shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
The right of people in California to remain on their property during a mandatory wildfire evacuation under Section 409.5 has long been recognized and has been repeatedly acknowledged by fire officials during the past week. That is why law enforcement has been reduced to threatening to arrest people “if they leave their property.” – Xasauan Today
“He who gives up freedom for safety, deserves neither.” Benjamin Franklin
He also said, “He that would live in peace and at ease, Must not speak all he knows, nor judge all he sees.”
The debate over the authoritative actions is one I would be pleased to think was sparked by my posting earlier. Negative comments are expected (this is after all a free country and not as some would have it) and welcome but I wish respondents had the strength of conviction not to hide behind blog names.
Bravo to Xasauan Today for coming forth with a sound opinion on civil rights regarding personal rights and responsibilities vs. bureaucratic dictates. As a 35 year resident of this coast I have learned a few things about how to manage my responsibilities effectively in these mountains. (More than a few practical lessons have come from the Curtis family.) The savvy folks of this coast develop their fire knowledge as an ongoing practice. They clear brush in spring, test their fire hoses, keep their water tanks full, and make a constant study of their terrain and how fire would affect them under various conditions.
However, the tragedies of the Basin Complex notwithstanding, it’s true that the weather gods have blessed most of us. The wind has come mainly from the north and west. (Good for me, north of the fire; bad for residents in the south). If the wind had shifted to the east, allowing the Gorge blaze to race across Hwy 1 and up the western ridges, I wonder how many homeowners would have been prepared to face the flames.
As I write, backfires on Mescal Ridge are reflecting off a clear sky at dusk. Various headlights are visible along the ridge. The fog, predictably, has retreated to the coast. What if the fog were to return in the night and obscure the backfire and it were to spill over into Rocky Creek, Palo Colorado, and Garrapata Canyons?! We have a couple thousand dead standing tanoaks in the chimneys of these canyons…200′ flames rushing to the sea…a community of residents asleep with only one way out. Indeed, the gods have been with us and I fully expect to wake up tomorrow with a successful backfire bringing us to greater safety than when lightning struck. But this is a wake up call to all of us who live in these mountains. We must redouble our efforts to ensure the safety of ourselves and our neighbors. This extraordinary moment with dead standing forests, drought, and lightning storms in June, are a formula for tragedy. But if we use the relative (momentary?) safety to eliminate dead trees, clear brush, install more water storage, roof sprinklers, etc., we stand a good chance of beating the odds in this doubtful season.
Lloyd Jones, Garrapata
I have heard directly from a well placed source that there is to be a Pow Wow on Tuesday in Big Sur where authoritative requests will be made to law enforcement and fire personnel to better appreciate and work with the Big Sur community and, for example, to work out times for road openings for locals to resupply etc.
It is important to remember that many of the people who stayed to protect their homes were not doing so because of their fear of sleeping in CMS Gym and eating non organic meals provided by the Red cross. Most people have remained because of a feeling, well based in experience (PARTINGTON), that if you want your home to be saved, and you live up a dirt road, that has been deemed dangerous , hard to maneuver an engine through, or without an adequate exit , ( which is almost all of us) fire crews will not be sent in by the IC and your structures will be left to defend themselves. ( better start rain dancing) This of course is not because they don’t want to help us , but because like all good bureaucracies they are bound by protocols and rules that they must follow. One might ask is it not strange that there has been so much risk taken out of firefighting? No one wants to see people put in harms way for no reason, but it seems like, firefighters expect a certain level of risk involved in their job, As have the people who have willingly stayed in their houses. I have heard from various sources that individual firefighters have been very friendly and willing to collaborate with residents who have stayed to help and share their expertise and knowledge of our treacherous terrain. IC Mike Dietrich said when asked about resources that what they have enough of is money and equipment, what they don’t have is enough man power. Lucky for you Mike there is a whole community down there willing to do just that, HELP PUT OUT THE FIRE. I think what most of us would like is for the Sheriff and the IC to find a way to let the “real fire fighters” and all the crazy fire fighting residents work together to put this thing out.
Peace love hippy dippy butterfly kisses save the whales save the children buy fresh by local think globaly act localy reduce reuse recycle ommmmXOXOXOXOXO
Very Interesting Articles
First- thanks to all of the residents for being positive and focused at the public meeting. Second- I cannot guarantee that I will be posting on here frequently. I do hope to use every media avialable to keep residents informed of re-entry and recovery efforts. As a specific topic, I would like to address the subject of re-supply and supporting those in the evacuation area. One solution that I think may be a means of compromise is to coordinate a supply & essentials drop-off point for those who elected to remain in place. We will then work with fire and law to find the most effective means to deliver supplies within the evacuation area. Distribution of water, food etc. to those in need has some challenges. A balance will need to be reached between getting the supplies safely to those in need, and not having excessive traffic in areas where fire suppression is active, or there is a potential threat. This issue will be discussed during our planning meeting, and I would hope we could announce & take action on the proposed re-supply solution (whatever form it is) at the Monday 7pm meeting. I can say with certainty that none of the decisions made by fire and public safety were framed with the intent to “punish” or “abuse” residents. I would ask for your continued patience, and to be understanding. All of this is temporary- perhaps the greatest challenges lie ahead.
…for now I really need to try and get some sleep.
Thank you for listening. I think you should just open up the road both ways for a period in the morning and a period in the afternoon (or some such timing TBD) so that people can do what they need to do on their own terms. If you have to, make it one lane and/or use convoys, escorts etc. Tyring to centralize something will a) be much more of a headache than anything you could create on the roads and b) make people feel like refugees unnecessarily. Those in authority, along with the rest of us, need to breathe, and practice letting go.
On a different topic…does anyone know where they are landing/reloading the DC10? I witnessed it’s drop on Uncle Sam yesterday afternoon… an awesome sight. As it exited east over Tassajara, I wondered how far away it had to go to get reloaded. Thanks.
DC10 Reload-I saw what looked like a P3 Orion Tanker returning to the Paso Robles Airport yesterday afternoon. It’s possible that the airport is supporting fire tankers. It is large enough and close to government resources. So maybe DC10’s also?
Your attitude and comments certainly stir the pot in a community that needs calm, peace, togtherness and cooperation. How interesting that you would choose to say…”I would be pleased to think was SPARKED by my posting earlier.” Rather than trying to spark angry debates and IGNITE controversy why not take your negative energy and do something postive for the Big Sur community. Plenty of volumteer jobs out there right now.
This fire and this community does not need any additional sparking, flaming, raging red hot out of control verbal or actual fire. What it does need is to extend a big THANK YOU to all the residents and firefighters who are working together for a safe and speedy resolution to this situation.
I saw a steady stream of C-130 tankers heading north over mid-Carmel Valley yesterday (7/6/08) at relatively high altitude, and then returning from the same point on the compass. The DC-10 also followed the same route after its several drops. This leads me to believe that they are going a LONG way north — certainly not to MRY — and perhaps are going as far as Moffitt Field. The runways at Monterey are too short for the DC-10 (the pope landed in his L-1011 when he visited, but they had to land and take off with a partial fuel load). The C-130s I think can land and takeoff on 5,000 foot runways (MRY is 7,000) but I don’t know whether they can do so with the fuel and heavy payload they carry for these missions. The one thing of which I am certain is that they were definitely travelling to/from a point far to the north of Carmel Valley.
“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” (from the June 6 meeting)
I didn’t know they had done that. I thought the waiver was reasonable, arresting people who stayed is not. Thanks Xasauan for keeping us posted (and Heather for the links to the Curtis story).
I read a posting on surfire.com today that indicated the resident staying had been especially blessed in being under the protection of “the local brigade”, and how unfortunate it was that all of her neighbors were not so blessed. (paraphrased).
It truly breaks my heart to see the grinding .backbreaking and dangerous work being done by “non-local” firefighters be dismissed as sub-par. We are blessed all of the firefighters from hither and yon (some directly from other fire lines), have come to battle this fire are and doing so. Let’s be grateful, thankful and inclusive in our thoughts, actions and words. It’s not just the forest that needs healing.
I did not read it that way at all.
In fact, not once, have I read anything negative about a single firefighter, only praise and gratitude.
And I have read just about everything for the last week and a half as I have been focusing my love and attention on all of you and your safety, security, and well being.
I am not too terribly familiar with the entire area of Big Sur. I take an anual trip to Ventana though and I just love the surrounding area. From what I can gather, ( with my limited knowledge/terminolgy of the geography) it sounds like Ventana Inn, Post Ranch Inn, and Nepenthe are all realtiveley safe from the flames at this point???? Is this correct or is the fire still hovering around Ventana Inn? If anyone with a better grasp on what is where can let me know, I would appreciate it?
Thanks So Much!
Answers to my questions given by principals at the Carmel Middle School community meeting:
Do you have enough people? No, we don’t have enough people.
Do you have enough equipment? No, we don’t have enough equipment.
Do you have enough money? Yes, we have enough money.
Clearly, generations of local knowledge and practical fire fighting experience can play a major role. Outlawing that experience and knowledge is not productive, nor is scape goating a resident likely to create good will, or cooperation. When one brings a ship through the Golden Gate, the Captain who sails the ship throughout the world must call for a Pilot with Local Knowledge. The Captain may consult the charts, while the Pilot knows these things IN THEIR BONES, just as Mark Twain memorized every light and every shoal and every bend of the Mississippi River where his vessel worked.
Scapegoating has occurred against working people in shipping, too. But our Pilots in Big Sur are local community experts, altogether unparalleled in their skill, knowledge, preparedness. Even our youngest operators have been taught, apprenticed and tested by hard won experience: taught by family members, through the generations. If we wanted to be philosophical, we could quote from the Taoists: Take No Action Contrary to Nature. And our finest local community members are doing more than that. It is Better to Go to Heaven Disorderly than be Damned in Due Order, was the watchword of some of the English who set the stage for our nation’s birth. These historic principles have appropriate applications today. They may not be spelled out in our lawbooks especially well. But they are clearly useful in determining how to proceed when there is conflict between human laws and the laws of nature…
The sooner our brothers and sisters are released from certain onerous human impositions, the sooner great good will can be released to make this fire fight even better…with the leadership of modest people, altogether capable, and wholly engaged from whatever background…the highest or the lowest among us! As Melville said of whalers, their experience was their Harvard and their Yale. And do we ever have a crew of highly educated, sophisticated locals in our region…whose leadership must be ever more carefully consulted as this horrible circumstance proceeds!
I saw an Article that the DC10 air tanker was being refeuled and refilled out of Stockton airport. C130’s appeared to be operating out of Moffett Field.
With all those fires still burning along the top of the headlands, it looks like coastal properties along Highway One still face a significant threat if offshore winds pick up. Yes?
If, as was reported at tonight’s meeting, fire is still actively burning in those canyons, we’d have to agree with you – Xasauan Today
Does anyone know why the cabins at The Indians are still under mandatory evacuation? The USFS, when called today, did not know. The Monterey Sheriff, when called toady, do not know.
Does anyone know how the cabinowners can get to their cabins? The fire burned through there over three weeks ago.
The Indian’s community doesn’t have quite the political clout of the Big Sur community. That could have something to do with it …. – Xasauan Today
“Fire is still actively burning along the west side of the coast ridge from JPB State Park south to Dolan Ridge. It’s far enough away from the Highway that they don’t consider it an immediate problem (but what about when the marine layer goes away tomorrow and the wind shifts?).”
My sentiments exactly!
RE: Sympathy for the Sheriff
Have a little sympathy for the Monterey County sheriff’s dept.: they are charged with protecting public safety when some of the citizens are perfectly capable of protecting themselves, and some citizens are complete dolts–a danger to themselves and everyone around them … but the police have no way to know who is who.
On the right hand, I feel no need–should the situation arrive–to evacuate my location at the base of Gorda Mountain.
I have a 50 X 200 foot north-south spot that is completely bare; it also has a 50 foot rock cliff on the east, and on the west there is sparce vegitation because we already had a fire a few years ago, so there is not much fuel there. If the fire gets here, I can be at my safe spot in a minute! Furthermore, depending on which direction the fire comes from, I could also jump into the Pacific “pond” in about five minutes. I am confident that I can survive no matter how bad the fire situation gets at my location.
Also on the right hand: I have a neighbor (a retired fireman) who has a lot of clearance around his mostly-stone house; has a metal roof; has 5,000 gallons of water; has a pump; has firehose, and KNOWS HOW TO USE THEM. I am sure that he is reasonably safe.
On the left hand, I have neighbors whom I consider to be incompetent to boil tea water! They are stoned or drunk much of the time and have no idea what to do in a fire situation. They are the people who should be sent out of the area as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, a deputy from Salinas, or an out-of-area fire commander will not know how to separate the right hand (competent) locals from the left hand (inept) locals, so the cover-your-ass tendency will be to treat everyone as an idiot.
Therefore, if a “local” has been here for twenty years or more–been through fires before–and says that he or she can protect themselves, the police and fire officials should give them the acknowledgement of on-location experience and go elsewhere with their mandatory evacuation orders.
[[ NOTE: This is NOT to say that the firemen and women and “structure protection” are not welcome here … I am only saying that I can protect myself, but I might need help protecting my cabin. Of course, I already have standard 1 1/2″ firehoses and a pump in place, but I recognize that the professionals can do a better job than I can. ]]
Great to hear the news of the highway opening to JP Burns tomorow! So glad we can come out of hidiing and get supplies. Don’t know what went on at that meeting but I suspect the good results had more to do with with the input of whiners and other people who “stir the pot” and exercise their anger than those that sit back with a kiss-kiss, hup-hug attitide (and probably have ulcers) Thanks whiners and complainers!!
As of 10:30 pm Monday there may be active firefighting underway at Esalen.
I just received this email from a friend there, It’s not 100% clear:
I just received this email from a friend at Esalen:
“There are Strike Teams on the premises. Tonight we’re under the protection of an Office of Emergency Services crew from Santa Maria. The excitement is underway in Hot Springs Cyn right now. I’m recharging my camera battery before going back up to the bridge. I’ll keep you posted.”
Hot Springs Canyon is the canyon which runs down the middle of the Esalen property. The fire has been slowly burning down the canyon and was maybe 500 yards above Esalen.
These next few days may be the toughest for the folks at Esalen. They are still under mandatory evacuation, but many have stayed to fight the fire. Please keep them in your hearts and minds, even as restrictions are lifted elsewhere in Big Sur. They are not entirely out of the woods yet.
Re Above: FALSE ALARM
I just called the Esalen Gate to check. They are not fighting the fire at this time, but “are standing on the bridge watching it.”
Update from my friend at Esalen…at 12:15am
The slow burn in Hot Springs Canyon heated up just as the Esalen team was finishing coating the water tanks with fire retardant gel. The Canyon House had been gel’ed earlier. We then watched the fire burn through that area where the water system is located. This is the 23rd anniversary, maybe even to the very day, that the Rat Creek fire burned this same part of the Canyon. It’s dark now so that it can’t be determined yet what the damage is. The fire burned more intensely than anything I’ve seen so far, with redwoods going up in torches shooting flames and sparks hundreds of feet into the air. It’s easy to see how all the dangerous outlying smaller fires get ignited by this shower of embers. The south wall of the canyon is continuing to burn towards the highway. There are smaller fires in the floor of the canyon. During the day they are marked by plumes of smoke, and in the night their flames can be seen. An Office of Emergency Services Strike Team from Santa Maria is on site. It’s not a question of trying to ‘fight’ the fire. The strategy is to let it burn as there isn’t really a practical alternative in this rugged country. In the dark no less. The important thing is to prevent its crossing the highway. It looks like the main event is …taking place right now. Looks like it could be a long night.
CA wasn’t given FEMA disaster status cause we didn’t vote for Bush, looks like.
While the fire officials here may be too tied to the rule book…those folks up in Northern CA are getting almost no help at all!
Many of them are fighting the fires themselves, the reports have it.
I wonder how many how many swat teams with automatic weapons it’s gonna take to arrest them all?
…good luck to us all…pf
Is there any news about the John Little Reserve and Livermore cabin next to Esalen?
Because of the recent episode of so-called ‘rebel’ behavior, I would like to suggest a reading of Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”. Much of it is relative…different circumstances, but same ideas. A ‘must’ read for the times in particular and in general….
Here it is online in three parts:
…and a great read for an election year!
A question please;
Have any of you used the retardant gel, in this fire , where it made a critical difference …or didn’t work?…pf
Any word on the fire around Burns Creek? I’m concerned about a dear friend, Barbara Spring. It’s hard to connect. Would appreciate any info.
Thanks for this great site.
First of all, I would like to send my appreciation to Xasáuan Today for maintaining this website throughout this chaotic ordeal. Big Sur is near and dear to my heart, and my heart goes out to friends and the community whose livelihoods are at stake because of the fires that should be called a “Federal Disaster.” Even though I am far away (living in Paraguay), I can’t wait to see the Big Sur sea again in October.
Second of all, I was wondering if anyone knew who or what organization (if there is one) is in charge of preventive mitigation measures for communities threatened with forest fires. Is it the Forest Service? Basically my line of thinking is this…The Forest Service has enough money but lacks in manpower and other resources to adequately ensure the safety of all homes. In fact, they deemed some homes in Big Sur “inaccessible;” thereby refusing to try to defend these homes. The Sheriff’s department claimed that the mandatory evacuation of the basin is for the better good and wellbeing of both firefighters and the community. However, livelihoods were and are at stake in Big Sur, and the community has been more than willing to fight and help to save homes and jobs. Yet those that stayed to help friends, neighbors, and themselves save their livelihoods, were persecuted by law enforcement.
So I am wondering why there has not been any formal training with the Big Sur community (and who would give it) regarding precautionary principles of defending their properties from forest fires. With such training, residents of the “inaccessible” houses could have saved their own homes and helped friends. And those who did save their own homes (even if it was with back burning) would not have been arrested or persecuted by law enforcement. Furthermore, preventative training will ensure more cooperative working arrangements between the community and law enforcement in times of disaster and chaos, in addition to empowering the community as a whole to be holistically better prepared for similar circumstances in the future.
Any info would be much appreciated.
DC-10, Tanker 910 is being refueled out of Stockton. They have the retardant and facilities to handle the aircraft.
HippyDippey from above—Firefighters assume a great deal of risk, gladly. However one thing they are taught is not to place themselves in situations that don’t allow an escape. Sounds like some decisions were made early on by division supervisors not to send 19 year old kids manning the fire crews onto over grown properties that may have been by definition deemed undefensible.
I appreciate living under the canopy, been there myself. If I choose to again I will not expect someone else’s kid to risk his or her life to save my overgrown piece of paradise.
24 homes were lost in Big Sur and that is sad but I watched this from the start and can say without a doubt Big Sur proper would have been toast without the fine work performed by all parties including firefighter and the people who stayed.
In case people have friends up the Coast Ridge Road behind Ventana, here’s a link to the pictures we took while going up to check out the place we work on (Pick Creek). Some from the community meeting, too.
Molly…so sad for you! Was that your Airstream? I feel for you…
BTW…aluminum melts at 1220 F.
Re hot spots on devils peak: I watched as helicopters lit the backfires on the side of the mountain from my front yard. This may account for areas of heat close to the line. I hope those guys know what they’re doing…
Let’s be safe and not forget the ‘Other’ fronts!
The fire is still burning to the North, South, and East, and our neighbors in Palo Colorado, Tassajara, CV, and South are still threatened. Let’s not forget to support them and look out for them in our rush to “re-open” Big Sur. Check in with people you know in those areas, and see how they are doing and what they might need.
And let’s be safe and sure about the re-opening; the people in the Butte Fire re-entered their town, but had to totally evacuate again. Fire is fickle and powerful. Yes, the fire is ‘controlled’ as far as we can see, and yes, the economic damage done is immense, and continues to grow, and we need to get back on track asap, but let’s be safe and sure…we are responsible for our guests’ safety as well as our own. Let’s take our time, within reason, and be safe and sure!
Big Sur troubles move to the east.
Last night (July 9) in the early evening the CHP blocked Tassajara Road at the Jamesburg staging area, which is where the dirt road begins, and told residents heading home that the road had become a “mandatory evacuation” area, and that all persons including residents were forbidden entry.
Unfortunately for the CHP, this supposed order coincided with the arrival at the staging area of a group of staff from the Zen Center (otherwise known as Tassajara, 12 or so miles away), who had decided to leave the Zen Center in the face of the nearing fire front. There was a crowd of them and they were tired and distressed.
Also arriving at that time were a lot of the people who live in the hills, but who work in town. I’m sure they, as was I, were surprised to hear of the mandatory evacuation, because the fire was a considerable distance from most of Tassajara Road at recent reporting, and certainly as reported very clearly on Xasáuan Today.
Many of the hill people of Tassajara being, apparently, similar in inclination to many residents of Big Sur, and taking advantage of the presence of the many Zen Center personnel, and taking advantage of the single CHP unit present, drove around the CHP in a cloud of dust and bolted up the road. The CHP gave pursuit in at least one case, but apparently not successfully.
Others, not given to confrontation, but realizing that there was no danger from the fire, got home by other means.
I, meanwhile, was not present for this fine scene, which was described to me by cell phone ( only ATT works in a lot of this area, and the CHP didn’t have it, evidently), but was on the line to various fire and law enforcement stations to find out why this was happening. Fortunately, everybody answered, and all were very concerned and helpful. Soon enough (people returned my calls–it is appreciated) it was established that the real mandatory evacuation frontier was at the Los Padres boundary at Bruce Flat, four miles up the hill from the staging area, that the CHP unit on site was out of communication, but was being informed.
When I got there, an hour and a half after I first heard of it, there was no evidence of the high theater that had so recently played out, no bird-flipping, Tundra-driving tradesmen, no weeping buddhists, no neatly clipped but defensive highway patrolmen. Just the usual, placid dust than jumps up for a minute, and then settles down to a nice, even, tan patina on the sycamores and the mailboxes and the cars.
The point of the story? Seems that, two weeks into this fire, which has always had the possibility of turning toward Jamesburg and nearby residential hills and canyons, we ought to have in place at least a minimal early warning network, and a twenty-four hour or so advance warning of impending evacuation orders (except in suddenly changing conditions). We read about the stretched resources of fire and other government personnel, so perhaps we residents ought to formulate such a network. Fire is a threat every year up here, and once established, a phone and email list would just need some updating.
Government authorities would have to cooperate on the 24 hour warning front, but we can make the notification list ourselves. I volunteer to help make that list: can I get anybody else to help? Email me at email@example.com, or call at 831-238-2787.
I live in Robles del Rio – Carmel Valley.
I just “found” this excellent site today. The best coverage of the Basin Complex fire on the web… in my opinion.
I would love to know of there is an accurate source for the route of the “Big Box Line” to apply to Google Earth.
Let’s hope that the dedicated crews can keep the fire within the “Big Box” lines on the north and northeast!
Nancy Resler — Barbara Springs place is safe. The firefighters (and locals) have protected all the properties around Esalen. I drove through late yesterday afternoon. The fire can right up the the highway (backfires, I believe), but no structures lost at last notification.
Kate Woods Novoa, on the South Coast
How far are fires from Ventana Inn?
I live in Carmel Valley and read your site numerous times a day to keep up on the fire since Big Sur is a place close to my heart. I live high on top of a hill and can see the flames at night as I lay in bed. I have been watching the ever changing fire landscape of smoke and ash.
If anything you are an award winning website dedicated to the most up to date fire information as well as serve as a compassionate forum for all those who are in the middle of this disaster. Thank you for your excellence Xasauan and thank you Big Sur folks for pitching in and helping save my favorite place on the planet.
Nepenthe webcam is back on!!!! http://www.nepenthebigsur.com/
Tassajara Has Made it Through!
I just received a call from Tim Johnson of the fire command 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.
All the reports are talking about everywhere but Palo Colorado area. I am a residence there (closer to Botcher’s Gap) and can’t seem to find any info today about backfiring or whether dozer lines have been completed. They said that the Advisory evacuation might be lifted when the dozer lines were done.
Thank you to Xasauan for you info all these weeks! And huge thanks to all of the fire fighters!!!!!Professional and non-professional!
Peace to everyone!
P.S. Could you give me the correct pronunciation of your site name? :)
The reports tend to focus on the areas where the fire is active – so this is one of those times when “no news is good news.” hah-SAW-juan or hah-SHAW-juan, whichever you prefer. – Xasauan Today
i’m in seattle , i feel …useless .
what words??good job yall ? stay strong?
santa lucia mission (started by all saints church) :i reckon it is gone
susan and steve and ellen (river ranch) :what about big creek ?’im calling now but… i don’t know what to say
robinson jeffers said:
The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of surburban houses-
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads-
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.-As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from
Cindy, call me! 831-659-4878. Ellen
I just confirmed with Leanne, the Info Officer for the Basin Fire at 9:30 pm, that there is a 500 acre slop-over near the end of Cone Peak Rd. It took 4 phone calls to convince OES that I had watched smoke from south of there, all afternoon, and that no, it was not Devil’s Peak, and that no, it was not within the containment lines.
You can see the growth from a thermal posted around 4 pm (unknown satellite pass time) to one posted at 8:30 pm (again, unknown satellite time) at:
A little scary for those of us south of Coast Ridge Rd.
I just stepped outside and can see the glow from the flames.
Update: The IO only confirmed that there was a 500 acre “slop over,” south of Rodeo Flats. She did NOT confirm exact placement “near Cone Peak Rd.” That placement comes from the thernal maps posted at http://www.surcoast.com/fire.html and discussions with the website owner. Sorry for any confusion in the way I wrote my post last night.
At 11 pm, I saw the glow from the flames roughly on the east side of Cone Peak. At midnight, I could no longer see them.
This am, I cannot see anything in that area–no plumes. Temps are much cooler than yesterday, but wind is still a problem.
OK. So we now know how to say “hah-SHAW-juan”, but what does the word mean?
OK folks, it is not hah-SHAW-juan. It is Kun-shah-wa. The origin of the name Cachagua is uncertain. Its use goes back to the 1850s with the spelling “Jasshagua” and is likely to have native Esselen or Spanish influences. In 1875 the area was referred to as “Jachagua” and by 1883 the creek was noted on official surveys as “Gacho Agua”.
How you get Kun-shah-wa from Xasauan or “Jasshagua” we’re not sure. All we know is that we’re Xasauan Today and that we pronounce it Hah-SAW-Juan or Hah-SHAW-Juan. It was, after all, an attempt by Spanish speakers to pronounce and spell a Native American word and we’ve never heard a Spanish speaker pronounce an X as though it were a K.
We hadn’t anticipated needing to explain ourselves on this level, but since this has come up: We use the name Xasauan, not because we think it’s an accurate reflection of how the place name was pronounced by the native inhabitants and not just because of our strong connection with the place, but because a major focus of this site (albeit a bit under the radar) is the mash-up between overlapping cultures (Native/Spanish – Californio/Anglo) and the natural environment – the flavor of which the word Xasauan, to us anyway, captures perfectly – Xasauan Today
ATTENTION CAMERA PERSONS / DOCUMENTARY FILM MAKERS:
Anyone with plans to create a video documentary of this fire may contact me for June 22nd,
June 29 or July 3rd footage.
Stephen Spaulding (831-477-O277).
Friday, July 11. Sheriff called from my house on Tassajara Road this am–I am not there at the moment. They said a mandatory evacuation order was expected in the next 4 to 24 hours. Also expected in the T-Road area are heavy concentrations of smoke, which will detrimental to persons and animals remaining on property.
SEND REQUEST FOR FED DISASTER DECLARATION TO…
firstname.lastname@example.org NOT email@example.com.
I just tried your email to the White House thing…bounced BACK. Looked it up, looks like you forgot the “house” part of the email address, and I wanted everyone to know! From the Fed website:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ comes this quote, pasted here:
Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the large volume of e-mail received, the White House cannot respond to every message. For further up-to-date information on Presidential initiatives, current events, and topics of interest to you, please continue to use the White House website. ”
My thoughts are with everyone…from La Selva Beach.
I always thought Cachagua was Spanish for “hidden waters”. Cache + Agua. Ask Cache Swanson or Fred Nason.
Just want to comment on the photos above…beautiful, and they so eloquently express the depth of this fire.
I looked at the ‘large’ version of the Buddha/Madrone pic, and I see that the Madrone has grown around the Buddha…how long has the Buddha been in that tree?
Long enough for the tree to realize its Bhudda nature – Xasauan Today
Joyce Duffy sent me a photo she took of Don Case, sorting through the rubble after the fire. It is both lovely and heartbreaking. If you know either of them, and want to leave them a public message, please see my blog and leave a comment for them. All comments will be forwarded to her. I would like to collect as many comments of love and offers of support for these two as I possibly can, and ask your help in doing so. Thank you.
I wonder if the single red spot on Chews Ridge is the intentional protective burning around the MIRA observatory that was mentioned at the meeting at Tularcitos School last night.
Is current information available for the Basin Fire conditions and advance into Pine Valley and How Uncle Jack (English) is holding out? Local Media have nothing to report. The official fire boundry map indicates that the fire ahsn’t entered Pine Valley.
I read some reports this AM however that it has burned around and may have already gone through Pine Valley by way of Hiding Canyon or back down Churches Divide.
Any info is appreciated.
I spoke to Cachague Fire just now. What they said was: Backfiring on Chews Ridge last night got a little out of hand, and there is now a 100-acre fire just south (uphill) of White Oaks Camp. This is beyond the containment line, and it has prompted a mandatory evacuation of our area (Tassajara Rd, Laurel Springs Rd, Parrot Ranch Rd, and environs). I heard from Cachague Fire that they’re actively fighting that hot spot now, and it is possible that if it is put out, they’ll lift the mandatory evacuation by this evening.
Heads up everyone…the fire is on the move, and our Cachagua neighbors are in a mandatory evac.
Send good thoughts that way!!
Dear Xasáuan Today,
I would appreciate it greatly if you could help bring some clarity to the fire’s location and the most recent evacuation and road closure announcement linked to above.
I’m confused and a bit scared.
Striking photo of the page from Miller’s “A Devil in Paradise,” which is actually an adjunct to his “Big Sur and the Oranges…” but appears bound within the same boards. Perhaps even more ironic given the context is the other page in the photo, which is from Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing.”
Thank you very much for pointing that out. We had so many things going through our heads when we took and posted the photo that we hadn’t even bothered to look at the other page. I guess we’ll have to meditate a bit more on what these messages from the fire are trying to tell us! – Xasauan Today
I’ve been in upper Rocky Creek (Palo Colorado) the past days, so this is a tardy “hear! hear!” to Xasauan Today’s rightful indignation at the lack of detailed fire information from the forest service at mid-Valley fire meetings.
Here in Palo Colorado, on the other hand, Cheryl and Jake Goetz and the rest of the MidCoast volunteer fire crew, always have given us honest, detailed, intelligent on-the-ground information each night. It has helped enormously with exactly the decision-making that Xasauan speaks about.
Between those nightly meetings — and being in touch with my in-town daughters who would read me Xasauan updates over the phone (I don’t have computer access in the Canyon) — I felt my wife and I always had as much detailed, local information as could be available. I always had a sense of what the important questions and timings were.
So I’m very grateful — and share the indignation about when this hasn’t been happening somewhere else.
RE: English Cabin
As of approx. 1700hrs. today (7/14), a helo reported that the fire was about 1/2 mile from the cabin.
It would be extremely difficult to describe “Capt Mike’s” article as “very insightful”.
Would you please explain to me – if and when you have time – how you got the ‘purple’ line for the road area of the new CV evac? I’ve managed to put a ‘path’ on my Google, but I don’t know how to make it a ‘line’; right now it is a series of dots and lines. Please email it to me if possible.
Any new reports on the Cone Peak slop over? I used to live up there but don’t know all the place names, so I may have missed it… and as we’ve seen, the phrase “no news is good news” doesn’t always ring true with this fire now does it. :) Thanks!
7:15 am Tuesday
On the Geomac site, when I turn off the HMS thermal satellite overly, turn on the MODIS satellite overly, and refresh the map — it shows the fresher area of the where the fire is burning this morning a little more clearly. Lots of orange where you would expect it, but still no red.
The orange represents areas where heat has been detected in the past 24 hours. There is no red because no heat has been detected in the past 12 hours. The Geomac with the MODIS overlay is simply an extrapolation from the same data seen on the regular MODIS maps. – Xasauan Today
Thank you for your reply.
I double checked this to be sure. I’m new to this, so I don’t know where the confusion lies…
On the GeoMAC website:
On the MODIS satellite overlay (squiggly lines with hashmarks depicting heat — note: NOT HMS) with updated recent fire activity showing, when you click “legend” at upper right you get this key:
red lines = active burning
orange lines=last 12 hours
black lines = last 24 hours
With the HMS satellite overlay (famous “dots” depicting heat referred to here and locally as “MODIS” ), you get this key:
red dot = active burning
yellow dot= last 24 hours
black dot= last 48 hours
(no orange dot key shown)
Click to access SecuringChildrensWorld_pt8.pdf
The link discusses the wide and deep coalition instituted by Sirra Club and United Steelworkers. At the end of a few pages it mentions laws passed for the Community Right to Know, a subject which can be googled. SCIENCE for people can push INDUSTRY to make a more democratic SOCIETY.
To date, no construction trade unions have been called to fight the fire, which means that firefighters and communities have been exposed needlessly to risk of life, environment and property. So instead of outlawing profoundly capable local Pilots, fire chiefs and law enforcement should proceed to consider how inaction on a large scale has put firefighters and community members in the way of injury, illness, and death. Changing this can be as simple as bringing in one of the largest disaster engineering firms in the country, a local asset, with the appropriate Community Labor Agreements to assure local participation in the reconstruction economy.
Please see some of my infrequent previous posts, at least one was totally lost, however, after being posted.
Question: If the forests of Big Sur were maintained by foresters who cleared low brush and fallen trees, would the fires have been less severe or less inclined to spread?
I’d appreciate an answer or an Internet reference to the subject from someone who has some knowledge of forestry. Thanks!!
While I don’t qualify as a forester, I’ve traveled throughout most of the Northern Los Padres called the Ventana Wilderness most all my life, 60 years. From direct observation I think it impractical if not impossible to clear low brush in the interior of the Ventana. This due in large part that once inland from the costal redwood, the southern exposures of most ridges & mountians are densely covered in nothing but low bush comprising primarily thick manzanita & similar chaparral. The terrain is exceedingly steep and dificult to negotiate without pack or tools, dry, hot and expansive. Shady northern exposures and deep canyons support prolific small oak, poison oak, some cottonwood, madrone and in few places, stands of pine. It may be more practical to clear deadfall & low brush from the costal redwood stands only.
Plaskett Ridge, Willow Creek heat detection … I got the call about this around 5 pm today, just as I was leaving San Simeon and any cell phone reception. I ran 25 tourists off the road to get home and see what was what. We call it the mystery spot. I got home, could see nada for MILES around. You gotta know, my property used to be a look-out tower, so I’ve got views forever, including the supposed “mystery spot” between Plaskett and Willow. Computer glitch, is what I figured. I did get to speak to Fire Chief Division Commander Carl Goodman (I am getting good at this!!), who confirmed what I already knew. NOTHING south of N-F Rd. I did NOT ask re Rodeo Flats, as he is busy, I am busy, and I just wanted to verify this glitch. So…not to worry (at this point, anyway.)
South Coast Kate
One more thing I want to mention…surcoast communications who has always been our emergency communications contact, is now in SJ, BUT he still keeps up with all the activity, and calls with new thermals, new detections, and any information he might have, and I am very grateful for all his “heads up.” I feel completely supported with him as my back-up for whatever I might visually observe. We call and email each other often. I could not do it without you, Jim!!
The sudden dead oak left such a huge fuel load that a fire was inevtable sooner or later. Clearing out the back country would have been impossible. But clearing around structures and residences was certainly possible, and along highway 1. The damage to the valley would have at least been mitigated. Also, there was a huge fuel load in the back of the State Park where rangers had been cutting and stacking dead oak for several years. We have to take our lumps for our part in the severity of the damage, because much could have been cleared had we organized and began a few years ago when the oaks began dying.
A heart felt Thank you X. for your website with so much info and communication. Thank you Fire Fighters from around the state and country, we appreciate you all deeply.
I am one of up to 18 peolple that stayed to protect 8 family handbuilt homes on Pfeiffer Ridge as well as other structures. We fire cleared, chipped, chainsawed, had group meals, shared info and emergency evac plans. We had a swimming pool and a water tender with fire hoses layed out to each structure- gel packs at each home and teams for taking a stand if the fire reached us. We had confidence that the fire would be stopped at the highway- yet continued preparing for whatever came our way.
The most difficult part was the lack of support and inconsistencies from the Sheriffs Dept.
The inconsistency was evidenced by the fact that maybe 6 of us signed waivers and yet there were 18 of us here-not every home was visited and each person was not accounted for. Some were asked about dentists for dental records, some were not. There was a Sheriff patroling Pfeiffer Ridge for a while, then there were none.
I feel the main lack of support came in the form of threats to be arrested and lack of organization to help us get supplies in a safe and timely manner. As Rob C pointed out previously there are solutions…but I ask -why is it still this way in Cachagua/Tassajara area even now?
We circumvented the lack of support throughout the saga by renegading in two people to help us, chainsaw parts, spare socks, food and tequila and a generator for the water system. At one point we had a phone call from our dear friends on Apple Pie for assistance, but felt that it would be problematic if whom we sent got arrested or escorted out, Our hands felt tied as though we were under house arrest.
Fortunately with foresight and our usual Big Sur pioneer preparedness we worked hard in relative comfort, doing typical Big Sur Self Sustaining stuff like siphoning diesel from the water tender truck when we needed it for the generators, eating well from our gardens and fruit trees and rejoicing in our community’s strengths while mourning our community’s losses.
We all know the actions of the Sheriffs dept was done in the name of safety and security- but to excuse a heavy hand with that righteousness does not fly. We need to work together- we wish to Fight the fire and not Fight the ‘man’!!
Thank you friends and family that worked so hard for Pfeiffer Ridge. Thanks to those that stood in care and support via the www! Thank you Connie and Kenny, and others, for your editorials. I agree -we will make our statement at the ballot box when (if) Kanalakis runs for re-election.
I continue to send my well wishes to those still in the throes of fighting the fire (and fighting ‘the man’).
Here’s a ‘Heya hang in there’ out to Cachagua/Tassajara/Carmel Valley. Wish I could keep coming out to help.
And of whats to come this winter…whew…we know there’s more to be said about it all but I’ll stop here.
Peace and love to all, Tara M Evans
RE: English Cabin
As of today, at 1610 hrs., a helo reported that the cabin was still intact and that the fire had not moved very much in the direction of the cabin since yesterday
Yannar, Yes there were alot of oaks standing dead in the forest. But no there were not lots of trees stacked in back of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park or standing dead in the developed area of the park. Those dead trees were burned in a curtain burner over a year ago. Actually the park did good in removing the hazard trees and getting them disposed of. That is probably why no buildings in the park were burned. On to other problems.
Thank you Xasauan. We live in Carmel Valley Village. Your site is are only reliable source of information regarding this fire and related updates. The concept of a local blog having more reliable information i.e. “truthiness” than our local printed and televised news speaks volumes for the new world of communication. Your unpaid vigilance in keeping us constantly updated and linked to other news sources is highly commendable and worthy of the community accolades you have received.
Keep up the good work. Ron & Michelle Parravano
What is happening in Cachagua is personal. The Sheriff is abusing his authority. I blogged tonight on a little appreciated fact concerning a change in fire command. The Monterey Co. Sheriff has a representative within the command team on the east side Basin Fire Incident Team.
The only reason to have law enforcement as part of the command team is for law enforcement purposes. The fox got in the henhouse.
If I lived in Jamestown or Cachagua I would appeal to the Governors office or the Office of the Attorney General.
This is bordering harrassment. If they were worried about looters they would be patrolling.
Very very poor police work, shameful.
Check out the “controlled” burn photos taken around 8:30PM from Hastings Reservation at the VWA forum in the thread “Backfiring Success Today?”.
It sure looks like some things did not remain controlled.
New red dots west of upper Cachagua road?
Not on the downloads were getting from MODIS – Xasauan Today
I’m uncertain as to what is meant by “Nason’s” in the Tassajara/Anastasia maps. It’s not “Nason’s Cabin,” is it, nor the Nason family property north of White Oaks?
It’s the place where the Nason’s live. And, yes, it’s north (more or less) of White Oaks – Xasauan Today
Fireman Deitrich answered my questions on about July 4, in public meeting, by saying there weren’t enough people to fight the fire, or enough equipment, but there was enough money. Construction trade unions still have not been called, with hundreds of people out of work on their lists. This left, and may still leave, firefighters understaffed and overworked, on the ground, with their time stretched out far past the 14 day limit for a stint without rest…now counting at something like 21 days.
Without the principals having called for enough crew and equipment, our Apple Pie heroes, Pfeiffer Ridge holdouts, and Tassajara monks were all left holding the bag. That is not tactical error; it is strategic. However, we should be reluctant to let Deitrich hang for this, just as there were far larger causes for Joe Hazelwood being an alcoholic during the wreck of the Exxon Valdez. Pressure from above — to save on staffing and equipment — is massive and longstanding. Good people endure terrifying conditions for too long, finally making some mistake somewhere. The only one who doesn’t make mistakes is the one who isn’t doing anything, as a Mississippi Riverboat Captain told me once, a phrase later collected in a work slang book called Texas Crude.
The structure of Deitrich’s worklife could have been severely constrained. It is thoroughly shameful that our communities are being threatened with the loss of lives, their environment and their properties. But it would be necessary to know much more than we do now to hang a steersman out to dry, either Mike Deitrich or Joe Hazelwood. The real problems are still with us, right here, right now. Meanwhile, it is time to call in the giant construction and engineering firm which is right in our back yard! for the sake of those still threatened with the immediate fire, and for the sake of those facing secondary disaster because of the vagaries of winter weather. Stop flaunting the law by not relieving the firefighters who have been held at work past the legal limits of 14 days without rest. And stop blaiming ordinary community members doing their best to save lifetimes, even generations, of their efforts. Call in the engineers with the capacity to carry on the fine work already achieved by crews that have worked too long, with too little equipment. Scapegoating a skipper won’t achieve the justice we need. Right now, we still have emergencies to attend, and reconstruction plans to design. Saving lives saves paychecks!
Dear Friends! As a former Big Sur resident (Nepenthe and Ventana 1972-1975), I have checked in at this website (Xasauan Today) repeatedly and exclusively, on a daily basis. If someone has the time to research the following website, we could throw our weight together and give a real Thankyou to Xasauan Today with a nomination for EXCELLENCE in online reporting. XT has risen above the rabble of reporting like a Phoenix rising from the ashes! With a quick glance I see that several of the awards would be appropriate, but do not currently have the time to dig through to find deadlines, etc. http://www.newslab.org/links/awardlinks.htm
Thanks again to Xasauan Today, you are the BEST!
Lots of red dots on east side… even a few east of CV Road?
More staffing and equipment simply weren’t available in the first weeks of the Big Sur fire. The dry lightning storm that set off the Basin Complex sparked 1100 fires in Northern California, 350 of which were still burning two weeks later (and some of which are still burning now). The state drew firefighters and equipment from all over the country–and later from Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand–but resources were still stretched so thin that some of the more remote fires were completely unstaffed. Big Sur was assigned the bulk of the helipcopters and air tankers, even when the Gap Fire in Goleta forced the evacuation of more than 6,000 homes.
As to new dots east of CV Rd. Probably a glitch, as we had red dots in many places WEST of Highway One in Big Sur, but nary a single flame.
Thanks Chris Pentony for your update on the English cabin, 7/16. Yours is the only information I am able to find. Last weeks reports said that Jack English (my uncle) was staying with a gasoline water pump & several people to help him supress fire around the cabin if it approached. The AM 7/17 fire map update shows that the fire has burnt back from Churches Divide and is very near his door step. Does anyone know if Jack is still there?
Chris, how do you come by your info? Is there a number I can call to get Pine Valley information.
It has been reported in a number of places that Jack English left his cabin by helicopter several days ago and is no longer there. – Xasauan Today
“We think the most interesting thing is the extent to which the burn out fire appears to have spread to the southeast – but as it is still within the original Big Box containment lines, that may well be part of the plan…”
Having watched this fire burn yesterday from the perspective of Hastings Reserve, it looked like it was really being blown along by the wind and not “controlled” in that sense for some time (Pics on VWA website.) But you’ve clarified why that wasn’t “a problem” if it was just burning further into the box. Thank you.
Maybe someone should call in a hostage situation, and have the Fed’s/Homeland Security negotiator come…??? Then…when they show up…maybe it will be enough distraction that the Cachagua guys and gals can make a town run.
Now, don’t take me seriously, folks …especially the HS geeks reading this……just funnin’!!! ;)
(altho’ that would be funny…ha-ha. )
Here’s a website that tells how it’s done, in case you want to do it yourself .
(click on “gives-a-damn”)
passed a convoy of Nat’l Guard trucks today south of Cambria on their way north. Thumbs up!
YAY!! our Cachagua friends and neighbors are no longer under house-arrest!! Based on our experience here in Big Sur, I am SURE there was some behind-the-scenes “hostage” negotiations going on. Thanks to those responsible, and all the voices raised in unison — “This is NOT the Berlin Wall!!”
These many, many stories need to be told and retold. And when elections for local sheriff come up again, may Cachagua and Big Sur unite in the defeat of Sheriff K.
firefighterblog has an interesting discussion of the new USFS gal coming in who KNOWS how to deal with local community. It is not rocket science, but somehow, it wasn’t in the consciousness of most of the cadre thus far.
Together, we are many. As many, we are strong.
Blue River Canoeing…
I enjoyed reading your blog. What a great thing it is to be able to share information like this on the Internet….
Excellent reporting — easily the best source of information over the last three weeks.
I’m a little dismayed, however, over the references to Nazi Pigs and “storm troopers” (in the Surfire Blog). No doubt folks who have had their freedom of movement limited due to unwarranted evacuation orders are angry, and they have every right to be. I also hope they vent their anger at the ballot box, although I’m not holding my breath. Equating such treatment with that of the Nazis, however, reveals either ignorance of Nazi horrors or hysteria brought on by intense stress. I hope it’s the latter.
The Nazis didn’t confine people to their homes as much as drag them out, line them up, and shoot them. Entire towns were deported to death camps for forced labor and gassing. Unless I’ve missed something, nothing remotely close to that has happened. I personally find references to that misplaced and highly offensive.
When the time comes to critique the actions of local law enforcement and make policy changes hopefully cooler voices will dominate the debate. If not, don’t expect anything to change. Big Sur is too sparsely populated to make a difference when it comes to elections.
Agreed. It wouldn’t have been our choice of words either. We posted the letter with the reference to “Nazi Pigs” because we thought it was important that everyone understand just how upset the people being threatened with arrest for trying to protect their property were getting. The person who wrote the letter is a long-time resident of Cachagua, an active member of the community, and a well-respected professional. Those are certainly not words she would normally use either, but at the time she wrote them she had been threatened with arrest, arbitrarily prevented from getting feed for her animals, and prevented from seeing her husband (for several days running) – all because she chose to exercise her right to protect her property. In using those words, she was trying to convey the degree to which the edicts she was living under resembled those of a malevolent totalitarian state. She was not trying to suggest that anyone was being marched off to death camps. We’re guessing that our readers had no trouble making this distinction. – Xasauan Today
“…Since only a few hours ago residents were being told the evacuation would remain in place for at least another 72 hours, we’re guessing it took something more than just good news from the fire lines to create this sudden dramatic change in policy…”
You are right on, and this “something more” might even have a name: Jeane Pincha Tulley, head (?) of a new command team which arrived here yesterday. Firefighter Blog has a very interesting behind-the-scenes take.
I also wouldn’t be surprised to find that the coalition of Monterey County leaders (Potter et al) who put such important pressure on the “authorities” to lift the Big Sur evacuation, were at it again on this one.
Since things seem to be winding down, I want to again thank you who are Xasáuan Today for offering, hands down, such consistently reliable, informed, sober, inteeligent and heartful reporting during a time of great challenge and change for all of us — and for the Ventana Wilderness and land in Monterey County. I am not exaggerrating when I say that you helped me retain my sanity during the past three weeks on numerous occasions, and of course almost lose it on a few others. :-)
You will remain in my thoughts…and my bookmarks!
First, a profound thanks to the fire crews who risked their butts and to this blog, our first choice for fire info.
Note that it isn’t over yet…that’s up to the wind.
Musing , here N of Ragged Point, as the motorcycles snort and whine their way up hwy 1 to the big race. Wondering how many will lose it on the way back down? Could we consider picking them back up a morbid, seasonal sport?
In years past, locals and volunteers were welcomed on the fire lines and played a significant part.
In years past folks defended their homes from the fires and it was considered normal.
In years past, Americans were considered inherently competent to act in their own interests and in the interests of their neighbors in an emergency.
Nowadays, it appears to be assumed otherwise by our government and that’s insulting and contrary to the core values of our nation.
It forces our government functionaries and the populace into adversary positions and is simply stupid policy.
Urban folks may find this acceptable, but out here, we need to change that.
I get taxed, but enjoy almost no county services…mostly the govt offers nuisance value. If i dial 911, they’ll probably arrive in time to make a report.
The least they could do is not be obstructive.
A last note; One of the guys who backfired in the face of advancing flames not only had fire fighting experience…He is a steel sculptor like myself.
We work with 5000 to 10,000 degrees of fire, mere inches from our faces, every day. Fire is a fast teacher.
That man knows fire !! To think he isn’t competent to deal with fire is inane.
May this be the end of our fire season ( hah!)
Wish you all a cool ,pleasant summer….pf
I want to than Xasa’uan Today for your excellent coverage on this fire. Our local news stations KSBW and KION did not cover this fire with the complete and factual coverage that you did. If I wanted information, I turned to your site to keep us fully informed on the where abouts of the fire and most importantly our fellow ridge runners.
Your maps, photos, and comments from the community put it all in proper perspective.
This site will now rest in my favorites along with Mike Jone’s blog on the Cachagua General Store. Thank you! Jere and Marilyn Lanini
FOR PHIL ENGLISH:
I’m in the phone book. The information was obtained while I was observing the fireing operation behind Los Padres Dam (text book perfect yesterday, kudos USFS).
At 20:36 on 7-18 I’m seeing a lot more fire in Finch Creek and in Anastasia than shows on the MODIS jpg copied above. Perhaps I’m misreading. The pass I am reading is 18-Jul-2008: 2100 Mountain Time. I’m assuming it is further backfiring.
Also, although I have not been out to my house (.9 mile north of the Anastasia dozer line), my co-occupant reports that the evacuation has been lifted–sort of. The authorities are requiring i.d. at Sleepy Hollow, as in driver’s license, and at a later point a permit issued by the sheriff’s dept, and distributed by Cachagua Fire, permits of which are out of stock. So, I am told, you can’t actually get home without this permit, and you can’t quite get one until they are resupplied. If you are a resident of the area and need to get home, I suggest you make some calls before you launch.
Clarification to my comment above: I’m not actually looking at the fire; I’m looking at another MODIS image, which shows more red than in the jpg image at 8:15 at the top of this site.
Clarification #2 to my comment above. Bad Google Earth operator: I had another, older overlay turned on. The image above, posted on this site is correct, and my reading was not. Indeed the Anastasia/Finch Creek portion of the fire does seem to be cooling.
I am not a cop …
Posted on my blog this early am …
Tonight, on the way home from a gathering of old time big sur women (that ought to set the spine a tingling) I found some campers on my road. Now, my road is closed. They went around a barricade. No camp fires, thankfully, but still, they went around a barricade. So, I did what any Big Sur mountain woman would do. I confronted them. They confronted me back, so I informed them I would be calling the cops if they did not leave. They refused. I called the cops. I went back down to give them the opportunity to leave before the cops got there. They refused. They tried to intimidate me. Leaned against my driver’s door, shined bright lights in my eyes, and sundry other intimidation tactics. Hey, a gun MIGHT work, but these tactics? I’ve been here too long. So, this is what we are dealing with, folks. No camp fires, but lit cigarettes, cars parked on grass, and they really do NOT get it.
Any bets about whether the same MCSO officers who arrested us, intimidated us, threatened us, even respond?
More in the morning …
Just a note of gratitude for the xusauan reporting during the fire evacuations, on both the east and west side. I, too, come here first to find the news presented in a sane and timely fashion.
Thank You. Patricia Burbank, parttimer on Clear Ridge since the 80’s.
bigsurkate, I’m so sorry to hear of this, but sadly, not surprised. I’m wondering how things turned out, await your update, and send my prayers.
Xasauan Today thank you for the birds eye quality info and visual presentation. For those of us far away who care about the land of friendly hermits the day and night fret and worry
you gave specificity.
For those still in harms way today safety first and stay strong!
My friends who have lost homes hand to heart I were it wasn’t so.
This information technology is a vast improvement over the cb and grapevine of yesteryears. The media coverage was welcome in my living room. Glade to see familiar faces looking well if stressed from the summertime wildfire shuffle.
To live in Big Sur I can testify is to learn about preventing and the fight of fire. i visited the Apple Pie Ridge many times over the decades I lived there and the Curtis’s keep a tidy
elegant neck of the woods in every season. In fact the last time Pfieffer Ridge was poised for trouble when every property had a fire engine and crew on ready. The
back burn was scheduled the next day. I was laying in bed watching the fire on the entire mountain range out the window…it had been burning creeping west for weeks
already. And I thought to myself “I am not going to be sitting at the bar at Fernwood
fifteen years from now talking about watching this fire before everything I owned burned up”. I took my son driving with the fire over head the whole way TO Apple Pie where he would be safe while I spent the night ferrying everything I REALLY wanted to pack out.
The next day it rained, of course.
My point is the information age is an opportunity to educate. The folks who do not know
the community determined as the woodland devotees who steward the Forrest as Big Sur families do…really do not know.
It was amusing to see Frank Penny and the Gov. (formerly action figure icon) standing side by side. The Fire Chief of the Big Sur Fire Brigade is a real time everyday gotta love him hero.
Ross Curtis, it seems to me, followed the law. After what 37 structures were lost he did what was needed to spare 6. No one was hurt.
When it comes to wild fire the only pissing contest that counts is who can drench the
biggest patch of burning ground cover.
That community to a person tolerates..sometimes..an outdoor fire IF it is contained,
in a safe fireplace AND there are water and attended and shovels just in case.
The audacious use of control burning for fire safety was a dire and bold act and it was conducted in a well manicured and with skilled experienced landowners faced with an on going catastrophe not just in that Forrest the entire state.
The right to bare arms and raise a militia implies to me a right to act to self preservation in a fight.
Picking on the families who do what needs to be done in this instance is like arresting someone in a life raft for not wearing a life jacket.
That community members felt intimidated by a protect and serve public servant and
having to choose to stay home rather than help a neighbor in a firefight…THAT
would be the UnAmerican position in any era.
So, in a way this ones for Ayeayesir, who seems like a throw the baby out with the bath water type to me.
You are all in my thoughts and prayers and may the rain come sooner than later and not too much at once.
Jerry McGowan was the Basin East incident commander. His briefings went much smoother when he started bringing Rick Hutchison of CalFire up with him. This eliminated the uncomfortable pauses when Jerry was hit with questions about local landmarks that he was unfamiliar with. With the second and third meetings at Tularcitos, they became an effective team.
As for the actual prosecution of the fire plan, Jerry flat out kicked butt. Jeanne Pinche-Tulley comes in after all the heavy lifting has been done. They say it’s a normal 21 day rotation, but I think they’re sending Jerry to the next big campaign, where he’s most needed.
Robert Clyburn, Monterey County OES posted an Urgent Request at SurFire2008…paraphasing that message here…
All residents & businesses who had damages & lost money due to the Basin Complex Fire, you need to fill out a form ASAP.
This needs to be emailed by Monday, July 21st, afternoon or returned to Big Sur Bakery 10am-12:00pm where CPOA will be there to help.
This is super important because this is the information FEMA uses to verify the fire damage, which leads to the decesion of the Federal Disaster Declaration for federal money for rebuilding.
To access the forms, go to http://www.SurFire2008.org under the Blog section dated July 19th as URGENT UPDATE: From the OES. Here there are links to the forms.
Also, Robert Clyburn posted a message in the Notices section dated 7/19/08 as A URGENT REQUEST from the OES
As things begin to ‘calm’ down, and we all have to get back to daily life, I want to be sure to take the time to thank you for your contributions to this fire event and my sanity through it. Being able to connect online while my “heart & soul’s” HOME is going through this change has been a saving thing, and I thank you.
Looks like the Pfeiffer State Park will be open tomorrow,7/25!!!
Thanks Xasauantoday for everything!
Donation Station at Loma Vista Barn …for anyone who lost homes/possessions in the fire. Contact gas station attendant at Loma Vista Sat. July 26 – Sat. Aug. 2 to gain access to the barn. There are kitchen and bath items, lots of bedding/linens, campgear, household items, clothing for men,women & kids, furniture (larger items posted). If you want to donate items, leave them outside the barn & they’ll be placed inside. Thank you to everyone who shared. Contact Janette (375-3355) or Rachel (392-5388) for any questions.
This is from the Thursday, 7/24/08 7PM update:
“With the successful progress on the fire, the Monterey County Sheriff will lift all Voluntary Evacuations and road closures at 6 pm tomorrow evening, July 25, 2008.”
What will likely be the last Carmel Valley Community fire briefing is scheduled for 7:00 pm on Friday, July 25th at the Tularcitos School (This is one hour later than starting time for previous meetings).
Naturally if something changes in the status of the fire, this might not be the final briefing, but that is the current plan and certainly the hope of everyone. Incident Commander Jeanne Pincha-Tulley will be leading this meeting. A large attendance at the meeting will be an excellent way to say goodbye and express the community’s gratitude to all of the firefighters that have worked long and hard on this fire to protect our lives and property for the past few weeks.
An audio/visual slide show of images from the Basin Complex fire is planned for the Friday evening meeting as well.
Please pass this information on to your friends in the Carmel Valley area. Lets try and have a standing room only crowd Friday evening.
***The LA Times is now publishing a fire series; it began last Sunday. 27 July 2008.
Science, Industry and Society (contributed to Ventana Wilderness Alliance site)
The issues which we all are discussing now about forest fires — with the current Los Angeles Times article series as a catalyst — are issues about the effects of society upon the world. In this crisis, the community has been discussing them all along, as well: about access to information; about authority in a democracy; about life, the environment and property.
This is another level in a complex system…and its effects can be profound. It is not only about the geography of fire, the weather, the types of equipment used, the amount and distribution of fuels, the dynamics of fire movement, and more. The placement of structures and their construction is a social issue. This would include, also, dam placements. Letting fire burn is a social and economic decision; when to fight fire, with what technology, is also a social and economic decision. Protecting life, the environment and property all involve economic concerns. Some historical studies have shown that smart, empirically based work can be done at one tenth the cost of pork barrel privateers who plunder public funds. Other studies show that authoritarian command systems can create secondary disasters because of private interest.
Paying attention to principles that arise in democracies will give us some stars to steer toward. It is paradoxical that science produces experts in a democracy. In the present case, our local experts were outlawed when they probably knew better than anyone how to proceed; and then they successfully acted upon their knowledge. We would be wise to consider how much more positive good our local experts can bring to bear upon present reconstruction concerns. Captains must call Local Pilots in order to pass through the Golden Gate with their 1200 foot ships and 15,000 cargo containers.
Good, empirical practice suggests that we shall do the same, in setting up a democratically representative community board with many experienced local pilots for the forest and the road…as well as all our other social and economic concerns. With the historic fisheries environment destroyed in Monterey, what was left of its community’s economic life, even if its houses still stand? When we changed swords for ploughshares at Fort Ord, what social and economic changes did we design?
Certainly Cal State University at Monterey Bay can be called upon to help in this Big Sur reconstruction, at many levels, in this complex system. The command system which was Fort Ord has been replaced with a cooperative system which is an institution of higher learning. Does anyone smell the rose that could become a new Forest Community Institute at the University? Could it be housed partly in Big Sur, in some appropriate structure built by locals and saved by firefighters?
29 July 2008
Now that containment was completed 3 days ahead of schedule, now that lives take a different turn — not towards “normalacy” that will take years, now that we take a look towards the winter storms which will come, I would like to take a moment to just thank xasauantoday for their excellent coverage and communication with our Big Sur community and our larger world-wide community. The service you provided to all of us was invaluable. Your knowledge of the terrain, topography, geography and all areas of the fire are the best – bar none. Most of us know our little corner of the world, but xasauan’s “little corner” is much bigger than most.
Thank you for all your hard work & compassion. BigSurKate
Everyone be sure to look at XT’s new feature ‘fire-related rural legends’. The link is at the very top of this page. Yet ANOTHER class A offering from these guys! Hey, who the heck are you guys anyway??? And what are you going to do with all your amazing creative energies now that the fire is (thanks be to God) pretty much ‘past tense’, if you get my drift. You should be given honorary master’s degrees in investigative journalism. How is it that you guys are so far ahead of the pack that actually have those degrees on paper? I hope your brilliance is able to find a new and equally worthy outlet. But, if not, I thank God that you were here for ‘such a time as this’.
As a somewhat frequent visitor to Big Sur who lives in an area of rural San Luis Obispo County that has not burned in over 50 years (CDF tells us every year to be prepared because they expect it to burn any time now), I want to thank you for your fine information and reporting about this huge event. We will be up there again in a week or so and are looking forward to talking with folks. Your reporting and web links have also been very useful for me to learn how to keep abreast of the fires in northern California as our daughter is working in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. I was able to use many of the websites and sources of information you provided as a jumping off point to learn information about the fires up there.
Again, many thanks for the service you have provided to us Big Sur lovers near and far.
The following was taken down off of another site, about 17 July 2008, because its moderator didn’t like the opinions expressed, even honestly crafted and carefully constructed as they were. Thank you Xasauan for your continued works, which will be valuable in the next stages of evaluation and reconstruction. Do you suppose that there will be graphic ways to communicate the issues regarding hydraulic engineering problems in the forest and on the roads? The record you have created here is just marvelous…and we shall hope can be ratcheted up for future concerns…Disasters like this, and responses, can take decades to fully fathom…with engineered and planned prevention at the core of future efforts.
Chief firefighter…”Dietrich answered my questions on about July 4, in public meeting, by saying there weren’t enough people, enough equipment, but there was enough money. Construction trade unions still have not been called, with hundreds of people out of work on their lists. This left, and may still leave, firefighters understaffed and overworked, on the ground, with their time stretched out far past the 14 day limit for a stint without rest…now counting at something like 21 days.
Without the principals having called for enough crew and equipment, Apple Pie heroes, Pfeiffer Ridge holdouts, and Tassajara monks were all left holding the bag. That is not tactical error; it is strategic. However, I would be reluctant to let Dietrich hang for this, just as there were far larger causes for Joe Hazelwood being an alcoholic during the wreck of the Exxon Valdez. Pressure from above — to save on staffing and equipment — is massive and longstanding. Good people endure terrifying conditions for too long, finally making some mistake somewhere. The only one who doesn’t make mistakes is the one who isn’t doing anything, as a Mississippi Riverboat Captain told me once, a phrase later collected in a work slang book called Texas Crude.
The structure of Dietrich’s worklife could have been severely constrained. It is thoroughly shameful that our communities are being threatened with the loss of lives, their environment and their properties. But it would be necessary to know much more than we do now to hang a steersman out to dry, either Incident Commander Dietrich or Captain Joe Hazelwood. The real problems are still with us, right here, right now. Meanwhile, it is time to call in the giant construction and engineering firm which is right in our back yard! for the sake of those still threatened with the immediate fire, and for the sake of those facing secondary disaster because of the vagaries of winter weather. Stop flaunting the law by not relieving the firefighters who have been held at work past the legal limits of 14 days without rest. And stop blaming ordinary community members doing their best to save lifetimes, even generations, of their efforts. Call in the engineers with the capacity to carry on the fine work already achieved by crews that have worked too long, with too little equipment. Scapegoating a skipper won’t achieve the justice we need. Right now, we still have emergencies to attend, and reconstruction plans to design. Saving lives saves paychecks!”
Salud, Saludos, Jeff
Looks like your website is becoming VERY quiet. But you are not forgotten!
I would like to thank you deeply for all the right-on information and high quality data, up-to-date word, and a place where all of us could keep in touch through the scary and stressful times…and much much more! All I can say is XASUAN IS AWESOME!!
Personally, your blog was a really valuable connection, because we were far away in the mountains of Idaho for the Summer. Though we were far away in person, the worry and stress was not. Last summer, what was perhaps the greatest wildfire in U.S. History, the complex that burned almost all of the Salmon River watershed and the River of No Return Wilderness (2 million acres!! and raging crown fire in high ponderosas and doug firs at that too.). It threatened many local communities. It came very close to property we have here in Cascade, Idaho…which is Idaho’s version of Big Sur. The correlations between what we went through here last year in Idaho and Big Sur this year are amazing. The stories of firefighting heroism in communities like Yellow Pine, Warren, and Secesh Meadows are mirrors to the heroism that took place on Apple Pie Ridge, Tassajara, and Partington. From our perspective, Big Sur is not in a vacuum. You have “brotherhood” in Idaho. And thanks also to tireless work of the firefighters from all over the country…(including a Level-5 trained contingent from Idaho), …whose work has finally stopped the “raging monster”.
Now, is time to heal…in many ways. As an artist/teacher, I paint my watercolors of the mountains and coast, and at Pacific Valley School, where I teach, I want to airbrush a mural with the kids that will express our thanks to the firefighters. On top of that, check the seedsforbigsur.com website. They have a valuable idea. We will be facing whole new “monster” if the rains cause devastating landslides to further hit the local economy, and take away the precious top soil, from which the natural healing of the Ventana will germinate and grow. So the “Seeds” project is worth attention now.
Keep the good work alive. Keep the blog active. It is not over yet…we are just into a new phase of this heavy event.
Healing to all,
Check out the youtube video at Carmel PeaceRocks, and watch the installation of a huge stain glass peace sign on a rock in the ocean near Soberanes Point. The sign was taken down by State Parks some days later.
Honey, could you provide a link or URL to the youtube of the Carmel PeaceRocks?. Old Luddite that I am I cannot locate it.
Posting of Meetings is no longer systematic at all. Has anyone thought to do that?
WOW! I really enjoyed being able to read this entire blog from June 24th onward. Googling my friend Yanaar Jane Lee, whom I regard as one of the “Goddesses of Big Sur,” I discovered the Xasauan Today just today … the day after Christmas 2008. What a year it has been! As a musician, amongst other things, I was at Loma Vista on July 22 and thru the “Big Sur Rising” event on July 25th, with my friends from Kathmandu and Japan. We gave a few Himalayan Singing Bowl concerts and some workshops and, as the “SAMSARA Meditation & Healing Ensemble of Planet Earth” vowed to return next Summer, July 2009. In 67-69 I lived in Pacific Grove and Monterey and then up in Palo Alto. Big Sur has always been one of the HEART THROBS of my life. In 1989, as a Tibetan Buddhist Gelong, I trekked with my then 14-yo Son across the Ventana Wilderness from the Salinas Valley to Big Sur Village, for one of the great adventures of our life together. SO … just wanting to say “THANK YOU BROTHERS & SISTERS” for all of the great Humanity and post-modern communication here — it really has warmed the cockles of my heart (yes, I said that!) to be here now. Don’t worry — I’ll be around! See some of you I hope next July when our ensemble starts out in Big Sur, we hope, goes up the coast and inland all the way to Vancouver, British Columbia. YJL has superb photography of the Sur, the way it was. Hopefully, with some of my poetry, we will get back to putting out a book, which has now become a three-parter. Then. The Fire. And the Reclamation! BTW … Esalen sure isn’t what it was in 1967. And, oh well … time marches forth … and we some of us old timers attempt to tread water. SARVA MANGALAM!
Kindest regards … and Life, Light, Love, Luminosity & Liberation,
Kunga Tenphel Ling Dharma Center
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[…] in the Spirit Garden at “Loma.” (Where the gas station is.) From there you can see Mount Manuel, that burned. It’s greening now, and on some hills, even this one, bright splashes of gold. […]
Wishing you a very happy and prosperous new year !
One map showed many mines in the mountains up from Mud Creed and I question whether the rain plus the mines contributed to the slide…not the rain alone? Is the mine factor being considered?