10:00AM Sunday November 2 Update
The 2-3 inches of rain that fell yesterday and last night over the Santa Lucia Mountains has almost certainly brought this horrendous fire season to a definitive end. While it is possible that some smoldering remnants of the Chalk Fire (which was declared 100% contained on October 30), the Basin Complex Fire or the Indians Fire may have survived the night, it is now highly unlikely that they will ever rekindle.
2:30PM Monday October 27 Update
With acres burned still estimated at 16,269 and containment up to 98%, it’s starting to look like the Chalk Fire may finally be history (hopefully for real this time). Lots of rock still sliding down onto the Highway, though, so use extra caution – especially on the stretch just south of Lime Kiln Creek.
1:30PM Friday October 24 Update
With the burn out along the highway wrapping up, the fire seems to be entering another quiet phase. The MODIS satellites have found no new heat in the past 12 hours. Acres burned are up to 16,269, containment is back up to 93% and miles of fire line to build are down to 1.5.
1:00PM Thursday October 23 Update
The estimate of acres burned is up to 16,094 this morning and the estimate of containment is back up to 89%. Highway 1 is reportedly closed today due to debris rolling down to the roadway from the fire. Check out the new fire photos posted by Big Sur Kate and you’ll understand why. New heat detections in the Lime Kiln watershed are limited to Hare Creek today, but MODIS has found new heat in the upper Nacimiento River watershed (deep inside the burn area) as well:
11:30AM Wednesday October 22 Update
Firefighting efforts over the past few days have focused on containing the fire within new dozer lines and conducting burn out operations designed to keep the fire away from the Hermitage and other structures. The new dozer lines are partially within the Wilderness (no Act of Congress required). Depending on which page of Inciweb you read, the fire has now burned either 15,359 acres and is 80% contained or has burned 15,568 acres and is 83% contained. They say there are 7.5 miles of fire line still to build.
The current MODIS map puts the heat in the lower portion of the Lime Kiln drainage, where burn out operations are ongoing:
10:45AM Sunday October 18 Update
As expected, the heavy marine layer that moved in Friday night slowed the spread of the fire considerably. The Forest Service even claims an inch of “rain” fell on the coast. MODIS has detected no new heat since the arrival of the marine layer.
The full extent of the fire’s advance on Thursday and Friday has become a bit clearer, though, as Inciweb is now reporting 13,410 acres burned and 80% containment (with 6.9 miles of fireline to build). Containment is now expected on November 1.
Most of this weekend’s firefighting activity has focused on reopening the dozer lines protecting the New Camaldoli Hermitage (which were just rehabbed after being opened during the Basin Complex Fire). Meanwhile, we assume, the higher elevation portions of the fire are working their way toward, or into, the Big Creek watershed at whatever speed the relatively damp conditions allow.
Let’s hope they get a handle on it before hot, dry conditions return.
8:00PM Friday October 17 Update
Interesting satellite image of today’s smoke plume:
7:15PM Friday October 17 Update
Inciweb now says 12,010 acres have burned and has ever-so-slightly reduced the containment estimate to 93% (we lack confidence that their mapping is accurate enough to make a 1 percentage point change in containment meaningful, but make of it what you will). In any event, large volumes of smoke continue to make their way north from the scene of the fire. Hopefully an increasingly thick marine layer will stop the fire from burning into inhabited areas tonight.
4:00PM Friday October 17 Update
… and MODIS agrees that the line has failed:
Here’s hoping the Hermitage and other residents have all the structure protection resources they need …
3:45PM Friday October 17 Update
Sounds like they may be a bit worried about holding the Lime Kiln to Twin Peak line. An evacuation warning has been issued for Lime Kiln State Park and the New Camaldoli Hermitage. See Inciweb for details.
The Wildland Fire Forum is now reporting that the fire has escaped containment and that 8 homes are under “mandatory” evacuation (30 under “voluntary”). As much as 3,000 acres may be involved. They even say good old Mike Dietrich’s Type 1 Team is being activated. (Guess MODIS wasn’t kidding about the heat outside the line!)
12:45PM Friday October 17 Update
The estimate of acres burned has been nudged up to 11,760 and the containment estimate has been nudged down to 94%. The thermal satellite images indicate that the action today is pretty much entirely within the Lime Kiln/Hare Creek drainage. There have been no new heat detections in the San Antonio River watershed. Here’s an overview:
We wouldn’t worry about the heat detections just outside the Lime Kiln/Twin Peak hand line. MODIS isn’t that exact. Most likely, those heat detections represent the beginning of burn out operations along that line. Inciweb reported last night that burn out operations along this line and along another hand line from Twin Peak to Cone Peak are possible today.
3:00PM Thursday October 16 Update
Well the Chalk Fire doesn’t look much like a fire that’s going to be fully contained by tomorrow. It’s been sending up smoke plumes today tall enough to be visible from the shores of Monterey Bay.
Inciweb hasn’t been updated in nearly 24 hours, and the last we heard from them the fire was smoldering in the Hare Creek watershed. Big Sur Kate began reporting this morning that the fire along Hare Creek was flaring up and heading toward Cone Peak. If MODIS is correct, it is now well past Cone Peak and burning across a wide portion of the upper San Antonio River drainage. Quite an active day indeed, although there are reports that some of this burning may be part of a burn out operation (which part isn’t clear).
Here’s what it currently looks like on MODIS:
The white line to the left of Cone Peak is the upper end of the Lime Kiln to Twin Peak hand line. Hare Creek is the lower left-hand drainage.
5:00PM Wednesday October 15 Update
The Chalk Fire flare up still seems to be active and, while Inciweb is claiming 97% containment, they have raised the acres burned to 11,310 and are talking about fire spotting across Hare Creek. That Lime Kiln to Twin Peak hand line may come in handy after all. On the other hand, they’re still predicting full containment by Friday.
Meanwhile, as many as three new fires apparently broke out today in Big Sur.
11:30AM Tuesday October 14 Update
The northern portion of the Chalk Fire flared up yesterday, but we understand the flames are well within the containment lines. The flare up is still active this morning.
12:45PM Friday October 10 Update
A Red Flag warning has been issued for today and Saturday (due to wind) in the fire area, but fire activity is still diminishing (with containment now up to 84%) and, with no expansion of the fire perimeter since last Saturday’s rain, we doubt we’ll be seeing any new expansion now.
3:50PM Tuesday October 7 Update
More accurate mapping has lowered the estimate of acres burned to 11,189. The containment estimate is still holding at 67%. With no significant fire activity since Saturday’s rains, many sections of the fire appear to have gone out on their own without regard to whether they were “contained” or not. But the Forest Service can’t rely on the fire not rekindling, of course, so monitoring and mop up is bound to continue for some time to come. The hot weather over the past couple of days certainly emphasizes how lucky it was that the rain came when it did ….
1:30PM Monday October 6 Update
The containment estimate is up to 67% today and the estimate of acres burned is holding at 12,168. Here’s today’s IAP (and we’ll try to actually link to today’s this time).
2:45PM Sunday October 5 Update
Since last we wrote, the estimate of acres burned has been increased to 12,168 and the containment estimate has been raised to 37%. By all reports, the fire remains subdued following yesterday’s rain. The improving situation is reflected in today’s IAP, which reveals a new, more aggressive, objective of keeping the fire south of the Carrizo Trail. We’re actually kind of pleased to learn that the Forest Service is aware of the existence of the Carrizo Trail. They dropped it as an official trail decades ago and it rarely appears on maps anymore. We wonder if this means they’re going to brush it out?
6:20PM Saturday October 4 Update
MODIS still hasn’t found any hotspots today and Big Sur Kate has done such a good job of cataloging Inciweb’s latest errors that we won’t bother to repeat them here. Let us just say that considering that they release such limited amounts of information and considering how long they wait to release it and considering that they have a professional staff of “information officers,” we can’t imagine what prevents them from getting the information they do release right. And telling people that burn out operations are taking place in areas where they are not is not a small error. People live in these places and when they read that the area they live in is on fire (or that the Forest Service thinks it’s on fire) it gets them upset.
9:15AM Saturday October 4 Update
Inciweb has increased the acreage burned to 11,968 this morning and MODIS, as you might expect considering the cloud cover and rain, has failed to find any new hot spots. Here’s today’s IAP. Not surprisingly, they’re expecting a “quiet day on the fire.”
11:20PM Friday October 3 Update
We’ve drawn in the probable route of a Lime Kiln to Twin Peak hand line to give you an idea of what the new plan apparently is for stopping the northward progress of the fire along the coast:
10:30PM Friday October 3 Update
Inciweb has increased the estimate of acres burned to 10,650 and the containment to 22%. Meanwhile, we have tonight’s IAP for you. Mark Readdie has written to point out that the IAP’s show that some divisions are now unstaffed. They also show that the objective of keeping the fire south of the Vicente and San Antonio Trails has been abandoned. The new objective is to keep the fire south of the Arroyo Seco Trail (which shouldn’t be hard since that’s the edge of the Basin Fire burn). Funny how Inciweb never seems to report on major changes in firefighting objectives. Here’s what Inciweb does have to say tonight:
Current Status: The west flank of the fire has reached Highway 1 between Lime Kiln and Hare Canyon. Firefighters have worked hard to keep the fire uphill and away from the highway, and to protect vegetation along the road as a barrier to rolling debris. Crews are building a handline from Lime Kiln to Twin Peak. Other crews continue to prepare and protect structures at Prewitt Ridge, Mill Creek and Lime Kiln State Campground.
The fire continues to spread northeast at a moderate rate. On the northeast flank, the fire is established in the Ventana Wilderness where challenges include extremely steep terrain and limited opportunities to construct containment lines next to the fire’s edge. On the south side of the fire, crews completed burning operations along Willow Creek Rd and McKern Rd to improve existing line.
A hand line from Lime Kiln to Twin Peak … well we guess that is kind of a tacit admission that the plan to stop the fire south of the Vicente Trail hasn’t worked out. We just hope this hand line turns out to be more tangible than the one they said they were building north of the fire last weekend. Otherwise, Big Creek will be burning. And, as of now, Big Creek is the only significant watershed between Pacific Valley and the Little Sur River that hasn’t burned!
6:00PM Friday October 3 Update
Oh yeah, almost forgot. Here’s today’s IAP.
5:30PM Friday October 3 Update
MODIS seems to think a new active fire front is developing on the southern end of the fire. That last heat detection way off to the south does have the look of a MODIS hallucination but, on the other hand, we have heard some reports of fire in that general area so …. who knows? Here’s an overview:
Here’s a closer look with Pacific Valley in the background:
10:15AM Friday October 3 Update
Inciweb is now reporting 10,073 acres burned. They’ve also posted an interesting new fire map. Interesting because it shows where dozer lines are being built in more detail than in the past, rather than for anything it tells us about the fire perimeter. By all reports the fire has been moving slowly, but there is concern that wind associated with the storm blowing in tonight could change all that, especially if it doesn’t bring much rain. The latest MODIS satellite pass found only one hot spot. This time on the southwestern edge of the fire near Alms Ridge:
8:30PM Thursday October 2 Update
This evening’s current status report has been posted on Inciweb. It says:
The fire continues to be most active on the southeast flank. On the west flank, the fire is approaching Highway 1 between Pacific Valley and Limeklin. Cooler temperature and higher humidity will help fire fighters to hold the line at Highway 1. Crews will continue to provide structure protection on Prewitt Ridge and in the Pacific Valley and Limeklin areas. On the north east flank, the fire continues to progress slowly with a moderate rate of spread in the Ventana Wilderness. Extra caution is advised while driving on Highway 1 in the area of the fire, due to debris and the deployment of emergency equipment and crews.
And here’s tonight’s IAP.
7:40PM Thursday October 2 Update
Inciweb has bumped the estimate of acres burned up to 9,107 this evening and MODIS has finally found a couple of hot spots. The first is on the hill above Vicente Flat:
The other is in the Nacimiento River drainage:
Elsewhere, the burning is apparently too low key to be seen by the satellites, but that doesn’t mean the fire isn’t moving forward. Many people report fire creeping slowly down the hill toward Highway One near Hare Creek.
3:30PM Thursday October 2 Update
Whatever fire is burning out there today (and, judging by the smoke, there’s fire burning somewhere) is still invisible to MODIS. There have been no new heat detections for quite some time now. We do have today’s IAP to share with you, though.
7:30AM Thursday October 2 Update
Inciweb is now reporting 7,079 acres burned and 20% containment. The latest MODIS pass found no new heat detections, suggesting that the fire had a fairly quiet night. Things may pick up again today, of course, but the higher humidity that’s already setting in and the rain forecast for tomorrow and/or Saturday will probably do a lot to reduce the rate of burning.
Earlier this morning the “Current Status” report on Inciweb had said that the “fire continues to move outward in all directions at a slow/moderate rate while containment and contingency lines are being constructed and strengthened.” And that it has “moved through many of the residential areas” on the south flank (with structure protection efforts apparently successful). This statement has since been removed and Inciweb’s “Current Status” section is now blank. Here’s what the latest MODIS map looks like: