Chalk Fire, Day 3

NEWS FLASH!!! Kevin, of the H-L Fire Dept. just stopped to talk to me. He has three dozers coming in from the bottom of Plaskett to put in a line!! They’ll be running the dozer line down as they did in the Wild Fire of 1996 and the Plaskett II fire of 2000. Kevin is hiking the line. They are still hoping to stop it at Prewitt, but this is the back up. Kevin also informs me that they will punch all the way through to South Coast Ridge Rd., so my road will be graded!! As anyone who has driven it lately knows, THAT is good news!!

Chicago Kid came through to check on me around midnight. He had heard about the guys in the truck by my back gate, and someone had heard on the scanner that the truck was reported stolen, and he wanted to make sure I was okay. The jungle drums of rumor work better on the South Coast than anywhere else in Big Sur. I’ve got an email out to USFS law enforcement to confirm or deny that. Let you know if I hear back.

Anyway, I had parked in the middle of the road to prevent the truck from coming through here, but CK convinced me that confronting them, alone, in the middle of the night, if they DID decide to come through here, was probably NOT a good idea. Considering I left my 4 dogs and my gun inside when I came out to see who was trying to get through, I agreed with him, and moved my truck.

7:00 am – Initial visual report: Temps in the 60’s, no wind, fog bank quite high, and smoke is “laying down.” Looking g-o-o-d!! Mother Nature seems to be helping us out this morning.

7:30 am – report from Betty: “good morning, no action yet. Fire has moved to the south and downhill in the canyon, not yet to the creek. smoky”

Fifteen minutes later, I am hearing airplanes.

8:00 am – inciweb reports, in part: “Continue to hold and burn out the South Coast Ridge Road. Burn out dozer line constructed from Highway 1 from Prewitt Ridge west to Highway 1.”

9:00 am – no air support, so far today. The plane I heard earlier must have just been a spotter. Jim has a nice thermal posted at his site:
Jim suggested I take another look at the topo on Chalk Fire, Night 2. The “X” in particular. Is that the estimated point of origin? If so, our initial reports that it started between Apple Camp and Chalk Peak were in error. No confirmation re what the “X” represents. Click on it to view it larger.

It has been SOOO peaceful this morning, without the air support, without all the neighbors coming through. I’m torn between enjoying it and missing all the action and on-the-ground reports. Almost eerie quiet.

10:00 am – traffic has started back up, again. More investigative phone calls re the truck I saw. Fire moving south (towards me) but slowly. Here is the current plume, which is more toward the east than the plumes yesterday. Haven’t heard anything re burn out operation.

10:30 am – Still quiet, only one truck passed through, so far.

Will the REAL Apple Camp, please stand up?? Turns out that the “Apple Camp” listed on the topo has had another name historically. It is by the pond, but the long-time historical Apple Camp is north of Chalk Peak, where an old homestead used to be. Got its name because one of the old apple trees from the homestead survived, even though the old homestead did not. That is the approximate location of the “X” on the topo map. So, if the fire originated between THIS Apple Camp and Chalk Peak, it started further north than I thought. Getting it straight takes some effort. Still don’t know that the “X” is the origin of the fire, though. **JUST GOT CONFIRMATION FROM USFS. “X” MARKS THE POTENTIAL START OF ORIGIN!! (Note added later. I meant to say “Chalk” Peak, I thought, “Chalk” Peak, for some reason, typed Cone Peak. Sorry, brain fart. Thanks Barbara for pointing it out.)

YAY, air support is definitely back!! At least one plane. There’s more! And see NEWS FLASH at the top.

11:00 am- recent update for USFS is posted on inciweb, so I only include the critical info, and I do think it is critical:

Current Status: The fire continued to be very active last night with spotting and intense uphill runs on the northeast side. Crews worked through the night constructing control lines. The fire has a high potential to move extremely quickly and erratically and the terrain is very steep. Today crews will continue to construct hand line to keep the fire north of Prewitt Ridge, west of Del Venturi Road, south of the San Vicente Trail to San Antonio Trail and east of Highway 1. Crews will be supported by helicopters and air tankers.

2:30 pm – just got back from my field trip to Alm’s Ridge to check out the fire’s progress. LOTS of work going on on South Coast Ridge Rd. Looks like a war zone, which, in a way, it is. LOTS of men and equipment. I lost count of the number of dozers working on the west side of South Coast Ridge Rd. I took LOTS of photos, so I’ll spend the afternoon uploading them, so you can see for yourself what is happening over there. Turns out, I had better than Press Credentials. Whenever I introduced myself to the “bosses” – they already had my name, location, and phone number on their clip board. Dozers aren’t up here, yet, still working the Home Ridge.

That is Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd. that cuts through the front of that ridge. The ridge top is painted red with retardant, which is only hinted at in this photo, but the fire is on both the west and east side of the ridge.

This is an example of the dozer work working on the west side of South Coast Ridge Rd. (I think it is actually a north west slope in this photo) All dozer work being done on the ocean side, and hand crews were cutting down all the standing dead trees on the east or H-L side of the road.

A spotter plane as it flew over Alm’s Ridge, almost performing aerobatics. These pilots are gutsy.

3:45 pm – YAY!! The first dozer just made it up Home Ridge, and is parked on my road!! I heard it before I could see it, so I was ready with my telephoto and Nikon D-70. God, I love these Nikons!! Here it is arriving. Oh, the dust!!

Not too many people can say they had a D6R XL stop in their front yard, have the operator step out, come over and shake my hand, introduce himself (Ron) and tell me he remembers being here on the Wild Fire of 1996 and doing all the dozer work around my place!!

5:00 pm – busy day. All three dozers are through, and went out the back, they’d been called to work back there. My guess is they will take care of the area between Plaskett and McKern Rd. where the others started their route north. Ron said a blade had been ordered today, so it should be here tomorrow.

Mystery Fire?? I took this photo from my property, from the road to the launch point, looking toward the east north east. I cannot identify this ridge any more specifically than that. When I took it, I thought I saw a spot of red. When I downloaded it, again, I saw the spot of red that I’d forgotten about, so I zeroed in, and blew it up. The quality is not that good, but the flames are clear. It is indeed flames on top of the ridge, in an area *completely* different from the main fire over in the Mill Creek drainage. These flames are south east of the Mill Creek incident. I have NOT heard anything official about my sighting. I am posting 2 photos, one the blown up one, and one the full shot, for reference.

Wait a minute…are those trucks on the right? They ARE, and one is a USFS truck. Looks like South Coast Ridge Rd? Anyone willing to help me with this one, I would appreciate it. With the two trucks there, and the road, I am betting on a burnout operation. Kimball suggests McKern Rd. But I really don’t think it could be that far. It’s only a 300 mm lens. OTOH, McKern makes sense, based on what I saw today.

Time to switch to Chalk Fire, Night 3.

11 thoughts on “Chalk Fire, Day 3

  1. You said: “The jungle drums of rumor work better on the South Coast than anywhere else in Big Sur.”

    I think that quality is what makes Big Sur…and especially the South Coast…such a great community. Even though people live fairly far apart (by city standards anyway), and there are feuds galore (property lines, water, animals, etc.), people on the coast certainly come together when it’s necessary and take care of business…almost by telepathy!

    I am also thinking this am about how the coast will be changing over the next few years…seems it will never be the same. But it will still be the beautiful mother we all know and appreciate.

    Good luck today to all and everyone ‘down there’. I miss ya…

    Get some rest, Kate…I am sure today will be busy for you.

  2. Kate I sure hope it wasn’t the intruders/hunters that started the Chalk fire? You mentioned last week that you had some strangers/hunters up there & now this out of place truck. I sure hope law enforcement catches up with it/them soon! Keep your gun/dogs close at all times. I finally got a read out at GeoMac:

    Stay safe!

  3. I left a comment earlier, but it was duplicated so the site deleted both. pooh

    Anyways GeoMac is back up for me this morning. It shows about 800+ acres involved. Dismal prospect.

    When you mentioned the ‘guys in the truck’ i’d wondered if its the same people that came through last week that you mentioned in another blog entry? I’d hate to think they were the ones that started this Chalk fire? I hope they catch them, but mean-while you keep your dogs and gun with you all the time. Even if that means sleeping with them.

    Take care and keep sane. }}}HUG{{{

  4. Sorry, Pennie, your prior posts must have disappeared into cyberspace, as I never saw them.

    It is surely a different truck, as I don’t remember the prior post you refer to.

    The cause of the fire is being investigated, and neither I, nor anyone else, at this point, know if this truck, or any other, was involved in the starting of the fire. The cause of the fire is definitely suspicious, however. No lightning, of course.

  5. Just read this on INCIWEB: “Evacuations were called for 3 parcels of private land within the national forest, in the area of Prewitt Ridge, Alms Ridge and Mill Creek for a total of 20 residences. It appears that most of the residents have chosen not to evacuate.”

    Everyone….be safe and good luck!

  6. Yeah the cyber police ate my other entry. LOL

    I know, its hard to prove at this point how the fire started. I do know that in excessive heat, fires can break out spontaneously. I sure hope it wasn’t some stupid hunter/campers. Anyways I hope they find the truck if it exists.

    We can smell smoke up here this morning, but don’t know if its from the Chalk fire or not?

  7. Hi Kate,
    Pete Prunuski informed me that there was a fire and doing a search for it I hit your blog. I own the property to the north of Kimball with my wife, Gwyneth, and her sister, Trevelyan. Sad to say we lost Trevalyan on July 10th but she put up a courageous fight against breast cancer. She will be remembered by us all for her love of Big Sur.

    In any case do you know if they are planning to run the dozers down Home Ridge (where our property is located)?

  8. Kate, thank you so much for your updates and the photos. My son is one of the guys who works out of the Nacimiento Station. We had just finished dinner Saturday evening when he got the call from his captain about the fire. Of course, haven’t heard from him since. I have been looking for as much info as I can find, and you have the best details. Just wanted you to know how much I appreciate it.

  9. Cynthia-

    I probably saw him today, but I saw so many sons and daughters, including the LPHS and so many other hot shot crews. The ones i saw, are all safe, they were working cutting snags, and working lines w/ dozers, etc. I waved at all of them, and yelled “Thank You” to most.

    I am glad to be of service, to the parents of those who serve us.


  10. Bob Kaufman and Gwyneth.
    Sorry about Trevelyan but good to hear from you via Kate’s Blog. I guess you know that the dozers (3) just came up Home Ridge, RW says it a bit of a mess…Check out my website if you haven’t already.

  11. Great blog, I’m reading it eagerly. Mill Creek will always be dear to me. Take care of yourself and keep a close eye on the weather.

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