Soberanes Fire, Day 20, 8/10/16 – Local Reports
7:45 pm – note from Kathleen Lee – the controlled burn from the Molera fire camp was done to control the Italian Thistle so that the trucks that are parking there, are not bringing it out with them to spread it through out the area. Kudos to the State Park Biologists!
7:30 pm – report from a happy local business owner:
“Smile on my face tonight. Marine layer was able to stop the fire in the middle of Juan Higuera basin, the N/F of Juan Higuera is considerable less a threat due to direct attack by Hot Shots from Dell Rosa or Dela Rosa, USFS crew real animals!
The S/F of JH has an area they tried to slow with water until the marine layer returned, they did a backfire to create a safe zone on Hopkin’s and they plan to go direct tomorrow on that area.
By Friday this should be a memory!”
7:00 pm – I promised my report from yesterday, so here it is, finally.
We fortified ourselves at the hotel Tuesday with a room service breakfast, packed, and headed out. I need to give a shout out to the Portola Hotel and Spa where we were treated so very well and given a Motel 6 rate for a 4-star room. It was greatly appreciated. We had a dinner that was unbelievable at Jack’s on Sunday night, after the fundraiser, as the crowds were so big and the lines were so long, we couldn’t get the samples of what, I’m sure, were wonderful bites.
So we had the usual town things to take care of, but made it to the River Inn by 11 or so on Tuesday for coffee and Internet, food for Rock Knocker, and local gossip. (Note: if they won’t let me start paying for things, I may have to stop coming!! But then I would miss everyone.) On the way, I stopped at the Little Sur and watched the fire burning on the west side of Pico Blanco, mostly saw smoke, not flames. Also noticed a number of dozers up on the ridge on the north side.
Rather than recount the day, let me summarize the things I took away – first, the tourist traffic was dismally slow and dangerous with lookey loos. The large turnout across from Pfeiffer Ridge was packed with cars, people crossing the road, and a lone officer trying to enforce some semblance of order (mostly ineffectual). Each available turnout in Big Sur was filled with tourists taking photos of the fires. Not a pretty sight. I was astounded at the patience the tourist industry workers were exhibiting with the inane questions and cluelessness. It is a great thing that I ended my tourist industry career about 25 years ago. I don’t have the patience.
We stopped in the parking lot at Ripplewood to watch the 4 helicopters we heard at River Inn come in from the ocean with full buckets, go back behind the short ridge right behind the resort and circle to the top of the Juan Higuera drainage and drop their water … One after the other, after the other, in well practiced precision. I wish we could have seen the actual drops. We later watched the drops on Mt. Manuel and those guys are accuracy in motion. Such pros. I stopped at the TapRoom to use the internet again and recount what I saw, but had nothing to eat or drink, as I was still full. Kurt and I talked the whole time, so was unable to post.
Most of those in the Valley were cautiously optimistic on Tuesday given the hellacious day and night they had had on Monday. I saw my community the way it is during an emergency – the best of the best. I am always so proud to be a member of this wonderful group of human beings, who pick on each other in the best of times, but put it ALL aside and work tirelessly and well together in the worst of times. I can never leave here. It has my heart and my soul – it is the love of my life: the land and the people. Thank you for welcoming me into the fold 31 years ago.
4:15 pm – fire in the new fire camp at Andrew Molera? How could this happen? This has got to be a first. Photo by Mike Gilson. One local has it as a “controlled burn” for the fire camp. No “official” confirmation, yet. “At Molera it was a controlled burn from all the poison oak brush they cleared for camp, just didnt bother telling anyone…”
Another photo by Mike Gilson, showing Ewoldsen’s (aka The Knoll) on the left taken at some time:
3:45 pm – I wish I knew the story behind this one. Just glad the pilot made it safely back to the airport. “Hey Kate….just had a tanker declare an emergency for smoke in the cockpit…..he just landed and shut down on the taxiway…..it is T01….engine crews are at the A/C.”
3:30 pm – from Cal-Fire:
Noon – I cannot believe I actually fell asleep again, after such a wonderful night’s sleep, but I did! I received these photos from Ray Martorano, a retired fire captain from FHL who lives near the Paso Airport. He is one of the many, many people who help to keep me up-to-date with information. After 38 years on the FHL Fire Dept. it is in his blood. You can see our fire clearly from there, and here are two of the 5 tankers that are working it from Paso:
8:00 am – and so the healing begins (photo by Michael Troutman):
Mother Nature continues to amaze with her healing powers.
7:45 am – recycling fire signs:
7:00 am – ah … What a long sleep I had. It has been almost 3 weeks since I slept 7 hours in one stretch, and this should do wonders for my mental and physical health. I heard from one of those closest to the fire yesterday, and he, too, slept a solid 8 hours. (Exhaustion will eventually win) The marine layer is over those in Big Sur Valley, mitigating fire behavior, for which we are all greatful. Smell of smoke is heavy in the Highlands, so breeze must be pushing the fire back north from whence it came, which has resulted in cleaner air and safer conditions for those of us in the south.
Fire is 68,698 acres with 50% containment. I don’t expect those containment figures to change much over the next few weeks as the Soberanes makes its way deeper into the wilderness.