7/6 mid-day updates

There are four articles, stories, updates, which might be worth your time. There are:

There is a great story at: http://xasauantoday.wordpress.com/2008/07/05/the-last-time/
about the Molera Wildfire in 1972. A first hand account complete with photographs. Well worth a few minutes of your time. I will be seeing if I can link it here, but otherwise, just go to xasauantoday.wordpress.com

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AM UPDATE from Esalen at: http://www.esalen.org/home/gordon.html

Backburning the east side of the highway today, before the predicted weather change.

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AM UPDATE from xasauantoday:

Overnight thermal imaging found heat only along the north edge of the fire. The fire is still burning in other places, of course, but the north appears to be where most of the action was last night. Heat detections were recorded in the canyon between Pico Blanco and Mescal Ridge, along the road between Bottcher’s Gap and the Scout Camp (which could be an error) and, most extensively, in the Comings Creek watershed below Pat Spring.

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Lastly, Connie McCoy’s guest commentary in today’s Herald is reproduced in full here:

Heartlessness hurts fire-weary residents
By CONNIE MCCOY
Guest commentary
Article Last Updated: 07/06/2008 01:41:25 AM PDT

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 and others have experienced in the counterfeit name of safety and welfare angers and saddens me. Indiscriminate decisions have been made affecting many 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 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-size-fits-all mentality when the need for flexibility and mindful listening are paramount, particularly for those who are in charge but who are unfamiliar with the area. It’s well documented 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 the 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 fire was threatened with arrest when attempting to fulfill job responsibilities near home. Additionally, 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 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.

Connie McCoy, who has taught and worked in the hospitality industry, lives in the Pacific Valley area. She can be reached at conicoy@earthlink.net.

2 thoughts on “7/6 mid-day updates

  1. “Big Sur Basin Fire”

    I watched as the
    Bombers flew over head
    Carrying Thousands of Gallons of Flame Retardant
    To put out the fire we came to dread

    Wildfires in California
    Raging out of Control
    Ours is in Big Sur
    And it has taken it’s toll

    Not only is it burning homes
    It is torching oak & redwood trees by the score
    The Ventana Wilderness
    Is being burnt to its core

    They now call it the “Basin Fire”
    It has burned 72,000 acres to the ground
    If it hooks up with the “Indians Fire”
    It will be one of the biggest in history found

    Camps like Pine & Indian Valley
    And Manual Peak won’t be the same
    All of this could have been Prevented
    By control burning of “Indian Fame”

    Wildlife being lost
    Firefighters putting their lives on the line
    Government & Environmentalists could learn
    From the Indians & the “Old Timers” and
    Then fire policy re-written & re-defined

    Using control burning & better forest management skills
    So these fires don’t Escalate in Size
    Should be our “Shout” to Congress
    Wake up & be Wise

    Will we ever learn?
    I think we have to try
    So that NO more FIREMEN, WILDLIFE
    AND PEOPLE’S DREAMS DIE

    S. KRENKEL 7/4/08

  2. This is such a wonderful poem, Sandy. Thank you for sharing it with all of us. Yes, we need to learn.

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