Chalk Fire, Night 6: The Glow of Prewitt

8:00 pm I have heard from Betty, who is coming home tomorrow, and I got an email from Katee, all is good, so far, Mary Wargo just came through with a food run and will go as far as allowed, AND, Geri just wrote the following and asked me to post it:

A great big thanks to the BSVFB from the Baird Family. Thanks to JC Corley’s stubbornness, we were assigned engine 7834.
These guys ROCK!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone was so helpful and awesome. We still have a home because you guys stuck by us. I am certain in my heart, that had you left as so many “officials” wanted you to do, we would have burned. Instead we got air support. (Thanks Boone)
A Special thanks to Tom Greis, John Knight and Randy of the BSVFB. They stayed the entire time, and to Kerri Frangioso, Mary Wargo and also Keith Harlan for all his help, entertainment and support.
I know that I am forgetting people. Please do not be offended, I have eternal gratitude to all of you who helped spare Rocky, Shelagh, Kelson and myself the grief of losing all our dreams yet again.

And Kenny Jordan from he Sierra Hotshots- you are always welcome in our home!

Everyone in this community really pulled together on this and as a result, to this moment we all have our homes. Some of us have no water systems, some have foam in their systems, some have trashed yards but man we all still have our homes.

Geri Kavanagh-Baird

Geri is right. Our BSVFB has gone above and beyond what we could even hope for. Structure protection has been phenomenal. Six days and nights of madness, and we have not lost a single home!! Without the dedication and hard work of our volunteers, working along side the professional firefighting crews, the many wonderful dozer operators, and the phenomenal air support we have received, we would have been lost. Hey Geri, if you want to know the names of the pilots who laid retardant down by you, give me the Tanker number, and I can give you a name and number!!

and this is what is happening as I type up on Prewitt Ridge. Mary watched with me for a few minutes:

8:30 pm -Latest report indicates we are up to 9170 acres. 32 residences threatened. Containment at 20%. Current conditions – “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.” Tomorrow, the fire crews intend to put their efforts on the southern and western flanks of the fire.

Here is a blow up of the same image. It could b possible flames to the right of the vehicles, just on the other side of the ridge, but it could also be headlight glow from a vehicle just over the ridge:

BTW, Santa Claus, if you are listening, I want a tripod for Christmas. Mine is a piece of crap. (LOL)

So, that is tonight’s report. Now, I will turn off the computer (but not the phone), climb in bed, and watch the first t.v. I have seen in almost a week. Get some sleep, and take care of yourselves, and above all, be safe!! We still have another day to face tomorrow.


Chalk Fire, Day Six

4:30 am -I am up WAY too early, but hope to catch another hour. Is it really only Day 6? I swear it has been at least two weeks!! In the mean time, Connie McCoy sent me a photo last night that is quite dramatic. It is was taken last night, around 9:00 pm from the Lucia cabins, looking south to the ridge above Limekiln’s south side, perhaps called Escondido Ridge. (Neither Connie or I are sure of its name-I’ve GOT to find my topo!!.)

THANKS, CONNIE — What an incredible shot. Stay safe, everyone, and as the thermals and modis last night indicated (See firefighter’s blog (Point of View) and Coast Communications in my blogroll to the right), and this photo proves, the Chalk Fire has reached the coast. If anyone hears that Highway One is closed, please let me know. As you can tell, I rarely sleep!

It will be interesting to see what the morning report has to say about the size of this fire, as this fire was going OFF on the south east side, and the north west side as the sun set.

7:00 am – a quick look outside and I see smoke in all the canyons, even Willow Creek. NOTE: NO FIRE IN WILLOW CREEK, just residual smoke. It is looking pretty knarly to the north of me. Current status of fire, as of 6:00 am is that 7,079 acres have burned. It is 20% contained. “Fire continues to move outward in all directions at a slow/moderate rate while containment and contingency lines are being constructed and strengthened. Fire has moved through many of the residential areas. Reports of successful protection efforts in Dempsey Flat/Nacaruby, Alms Property will be reflected at 1800.” There are currently 1473 personnel on the fire.

From the Plaskett Ridge perspective, the fire is north west of me, north, north east, and east, but still a safe distance. The rains should be here, before I am facing any threat.

Okay, now I have to have my COFFEE!!

8:30 am – This is the view this am. Prewitt Ridge is in the foreground.

9:00 am – We’ve got 3 helicopters, one Chinook, dipping water out of the ocean, and making drops. I will try to get some good shots of them this am.
Here is one, with the bucket trailing:

9:30 am – Here you can see three separate plumes coming from the other side of Prewitt Ridge. I cannot be sure where they are, but look like Wild Cattle/Mill Creek drainage areas, perhaps by the Noc. They “might” be burn outs, as the 6 am report indicated two things that lead me to this conclusion: One, that burnout operations were possible today, to protect structures, if conditions were right; And two, that they expect to be able to declare structures in this area as safe at the 6 pm report.

There is still quite a contingency of fire trucks at the top of Prewitt Ridge, as evidenced by this photo.

Here’s a shot of the Chinook in the Prewitt drainage. They are NOT making drops there, it is just the route they are taking.

A main concern, right now, is Highway One, and keeping it open.

10:30 am- just got a call from Phillip Darnell, Air Tanker Operations in Paso Robles. He wanted me to know that those absolute AWESOME tanker pilots flying T-23 and T-25 are respectively: Brent Connors and Bill Waldman. I cannot express my appreciation to these guys enough. If you’ve ever watched these bomber pilots, they are the gutsiest pilots I have EVER seen, all of them. Thank you, Phillip for the names of these guys. I will also post the correct pilot’s name on that page.

Here is a photograph of Tanker 55, being piloted by Dale Dahl taken yesterday of the drops on McKern. Look at that awesome roll-out, huh?

11 am -NEWS FLASH – JUST SPOKE TO RICH PHELPS, USFS PIO. THE WORD IS THE ROAD WILL BE *IMPACTED* NOT CLOSED THIS AFTERNOON, as Lindsey reports in the comment section. It will be necessary to proceed with caution, as the debris from the fire is falling on the road particularly between Limekiln and N-F Rd. 4 pm – Just spoke w/ John Bradford, USFS MD Ranger. NO plans to close highway, at this time. See below for full report.

NOON: i am not taking a field trip to the back at my usual time. Most of the areas of concern for me and my neighbors are to the north west, so I want to stay and keep an eye on it. Also, I am really beat, and am hoping to catch a short nap before the afternoon traffic picks up. Okay, one more note before I break. Scott Bogen, Mid Coast Fire Brigade, just posted a VERY timely warning and caution for us about fire behavior with the incoming storm. Winds are going to be a factor, which could change everything. PLEASE take a moment to read his comment below.

1:30 pm – a nap is not in the cards, apparently. Bombers flying over, dropping retardant just on the north side of Prewitr Ridge. I captured one. You can see the fire trucks on the right. Also, Ventura just dropped 2 firefighters off at the start of the dozer line down Home Ridge with all their gear for a little walk-about. Poor guys. At least they are going down hill!

Okay, I give up. I cannot get the Ventura Firefighter photo to show up. I’ll try later.

4 pm – The bombers are still flying over me. Cannot tell where they are dropping retardant. There are no longer three distinct sets of plumes behind Prewitt. It is all one big smoke screen. The clouds are building up behind Cone Peak. Here is the shot I just took. For those of you not from the South Coast, that is Cone Peak in the center. The ridge at the bottom is Prewitt Ridge. By now, most of you know the smoke is in the Alm’s Ridge/Mill Creek area. You can see several fire trucks spread out on the top of the ridge. The pine tree on the right, is on my property.

4:30 pm – Just got off the phone with John Bradford, the District Ranger for the Monterey District. At this time, the fire is creeping slowing down the hill. It is approximately 1/4 of a mile from the highway at Hare Canyon, across from Kirk Creek Campground. They actually expect it to reach Highway One, as there is no where else to stop it. USFS, CHP, and Cal-Trans are working closely together and have no plans to close Highway One. The most they expect to have to do, is to close one lane to clean up rolling debris, and they do not expect that to happen until tomorrow. On the east side, the fire is about 1/2 mile from McKern Rd., although it seems to have reached the summit portion. That is the containment line. The winds expected to proceed the storm, are expected to push the fire east, back in on itself.

XasauanaToday has acquired a copy of the USFS probability map. I can see why they would not want to release this to the public, but private citizens surely can, right? Of course, this was prepared 2 days ago, and this fire has not performed according to probabilities.

And please, if you get the chance, read the sweet comment posted in the comments section by one of the children, Allison Toombs, who was evacuated from her home at the beginning of this fire.

I will post more when I know more.