Chalk Fire, Night 3

So, at 6 pm, the super tanker flew over me. I could hear him coming. I scrambled to get my camera, which was still connected to my computer, downloading photos, I quickly disconnected it, ran outside, aimed, and he flew below the height of my trailer. I rapidly walked to the front, and shot off a quick one, only to have it focus on the pine trees, and not the plane. Damn. I missed it. Oh well, there is always tomorrow!!

I still have a few shots from my field trip today, that I would like to share, so I will upload a few more, before the sun sets. Netflix arrived via my ex who brought me cigarettes, gas, and milk, so I will be taking the evening off, I think, to watch movies. 😉

Buddies, helping one another out.

What bothers me about this shot is that this is toward the bottom of the Mill Creek drainage, and the fire is progressing downhill, apparently. I am far from an expert, a mere “C” student (if that) in fire behavior, but judging on the barren hillside ABOVE these flames, I would say it is moving downhill, toward the creek.

To all the worried mothers and fathers out there, whose sons and daughters are on the fire line (and I know there is at least one who is reading this blog) I think I can speak, gratefully, for the entire South Coast of Big Sur in thanking you for supporting their decision to enter this difficult and dangerous work. These young men and women are dedicated, hard-working, and service-oriented people who may never even know those whose property they defend; whose lives they have touched. But we do. And we honor you. We thank you for who you are and what you do.

I’m multi-tasking, watching a movie, while paying attention to fire info. Here’s tonight’s release from the USFS. I reproduced the entire public release here:

Fire Stats

Acres burned: 1708 acres
Fireline to build: approximately 9 miles
Date started: 9/27/08
Percent contained: 5%
Expected containment: None
Injuries: 1
Structures threatened: 12
Structures destroyed: 0


Crews: 31
Engines: 13
Helicopters: 9
Air Tankers: 8
Dozers: 9
Total Personnel Assigned: 830
Suppression cost to date: $1.2 mil

During the evening of Saturday, September 27, a fire was reported in the vicinity of Chalk Peak and the South Coast Ridge Road in the Monterey County portion of Los Padres National Forest. Initial response was by the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Department, Fort Hunter Liggett Fire Department, CalFire, and the U.S. Forest Service. On Sunday, a Type 2 Incident Management Team was ordered to manage the Chalk Fire; the team took command of the fire at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, September 29.

Current Status: The fire continued to be very active today with spotting and intense uphill runs. Crews and dozers worked through the day constructing control lines. The fire has high potential to move quickly and erratically tonight. Crews tonight will continue to construct hand line where possible. Fire fighter and public safety is the highest priority.

Evacuations: The Monterey County Sheriff’s Department has issued a Mandatory Evacuation Order for the immediate fire area south of Chalk Peak and South Coast Ridge Road. Approximately 7 homes, 1 commercial property and 4 outbuildings are within the evacuation area. An Evacuation Advisory is in place for Lucia, Mill Creek, Hare Creek and Limekiln State Park. The advisory warns residents to be prepared to evacuate should an order be issued.

SPCA for Monterey County Disaster Response Team is available to assist residents with emergency animal evacuations. Please contact The SPCA at 373-2631 or at 646-5534 (after hours) for information or assistance with evacuating pets and livestock. For disaster preparedness information and a listing of pet-friendly hotels and motels in the area, visit

Highway, Road and Area Closures: Highway 1 is open, but Nacimiento-Fergusson Road and South Coast Ridge Road are closed.

Weather: A cooling trend will continue through the first half of the week with a deeper marine layer. Temperature: 78-84 degrees; relative humidity: 15-25%; winds: southwest 4-8 mph; marine layer to
1500 ft.

Agencies: U.S. Forest Service and other cooperators under Incident Commander Jim Smith (USFS), of Central Coast Interagency Incident Management Team 7. The Incident Command Post is at Ft. Hunter Liggett. Media access to Fort Hunter Liggett is restricted. Contact the Goleta Fire Information Center for assistance.

6 thoughts on “Chalk Fire, Night 3

  1. Kate,
    Thanks for the great posts!
    The fire moving down hill is called “backing down”. Fires move uphill but will back down slowly until they can find a spot to make a “run” back up hill, heating the fuel and sucking up oxygen as they go, allowing the fire to move very fast. The run can move so fast it can kill, so often firefighters will be pulled away when fires are ready to make a run. This was typical during the Basin Fire, where homes where often destroyed when fire backed down north facing slopes then made very fast runs uphill, such as at Stone Ridge.
    BSVFB has two engines in the area, our new 7832 and 7834. Both are doing structure protection and fire resistant gelling at Baird, Nockaruby, and other places as they can safely.
    They expect to staff engines as long as the unpaid volunteers can manage to arrange crews (at least 3 qualified persons per engine per 12 hour hour shift) that meet the requirements that USFS (who are in charge) dictate.
    Yours, Firefox

  2. Hi kate! Im so appreciative of your efforts to relay the info in your blog. My baby is heading to the lines tomorrow morning and its really helpful for a fireman’s wife to get such descriptive and tangible info. Inciweb just doesn’t cut it for me. Its nice to see what he’s gettin into. If you see an attractive newlywed from TNF USFS take his pic. I miss him dearly. He’ll be the one grinning from ear to ear, because he’s thrilled to be working with his brothers, and kickn fire bootay!!!

  3. Lycia, If I see a grin from ear to ear, I’ll be sure to get that photo! And if I can figure out what forest “T” stands for, I’ll look for your baby, tomorrow, on my daily field trip.

    You made my night, lady. I know he’s happy to be here, firefighters are like that, but I’m hoping this is the last one of the season, for all you wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, mothers and fathers. May they all come home safely.

  4. I’m sorry I didn’t check in last night Kate. I nodded out just after dinner.

    Looking at the pictures and the latest comments, i’m very appreciative of all you do.

  5. I,too, am one of the worried moms of a firefighter on a TNF engine now at Chalk.(not the newlywed, but he too is into “kickn fire bootay”. Thank you for the kind words regarding our boys and girls, and for the timely information.

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