Chalk Fire, Day 7

4:30 am – I cringed when I typed Day 7. A week … a week that has been longer than any other. Sleep is hard to come by, not just to me, but to everyone I have seen or talked to. Sleep came to me at 11:30 pm, but the smell of smoke woke me at 2 am. Strangely, despite seeing all the smoke, I haven’t smelled it much up here. But early this morning, it was strong enough to wake me. Then, the cold woke me up, and I had to get my silk long-johns on. That’s a good thing. I love silk long-johns! I dreamed of rain this morning, too much rain. A blessing for us, but a nightmare for our neighbors to the north. Let’s hope it was just my anxieties working themselves out during the dream state. It is so quiet and peaceful at this time – no traffic, no bombers, no helicopters. I am tempted to stay awake and enjoy it. I think I will resist that temptation.

6:30 am – This morning’s visual is gray — completely gray. I cannot see across the canyon – either one. No Prewitt Ridge visible, no Willow Creek top visible. I cannot see anything. No wonder I woke to the smell of smoke at 2 am. It is everywhere. I’m in a gray-out, so have little to report, EXCEPT, officially, the fire is now at 10,073 acres, creeping south to containment lines. (WHICH southern containment line, I would like to know, there are at least three!!) We are still sitting at 20% containment. 32 homes threatened, and 45 outbuildings.

7:00 am – We do have cool temps in the upper 50’s and no wind of any sort, and reports are still indicating a storm this evening. One concern, of course, is erratic winds. Oh, and K.C., if you are reading this, E.Z. has been calling every morning at 7 am to check on things.

Inciweb actually issued an update at 7 am. I’m impressed! In addition to what I reported at 6:30 am, I would add this from inciweb: “Continue to construct and improve line, contingency line construction, structure protection. Continue to engage in direct attack where it can be done safely. The majority of work will be concentrated on the west and south flanks.” Expected containment, October 17th, a week later than originally reported.

Won’t be any air show today, unless the smoke blows out of here.

9:00 am – Just to bring some levity, here is this morning’s visual:

Can’t say I don’t call ’em like I see ’em. I TOLD you there is no visibility up here!!

9:30 am -Additional offical information re weather: “A Pacific storm will approach the area late this afternoon. As the cold front nears, winds will increase, shift to the west and southwest and become erratic in the canyons. Fire activity is expected to increase. Some rain is expected after midnight. Winds will shift back to the northwest as the front passes. NOTE: a rereading of the report indicates *19* miles of fireline to build. Yesterday, it was down to *9* What happened?

Also a note for visitors, the Pheiffer State Park is closing its campgrounds Monday morning, October 6, 2008, for the entire winter in anticipation of the winter storms. They are taking out two bridges to prevent debris flow damage. It is expected to re-open again for the Memorial Day weekend, if not before. The Lodge will remain open during this time.

10:20 am – BSVFB just came racing through here like a bat out of hell. Usually, they are respectful about raising huge dust clouds. I do not like the implication. Can’t see anything, so don’t know why they were in such a gawdawful hurry!

I can hear bombers, but I can’t see anything. How can they?

Here is an interesting operations map released by the USFS at 6:00 am. Note the detail of the dozer lines.

From the CHP page: 11:57AM 1039 27-S2
11:53AM TO SET UP FOR THE FLAMES GETTING CLOSE TO RDWAY
11:53AM BUT WILL BE CLOSING TRAFFIC TO ALLOW FIRE
11:53AM ALLOWING TRAFFIC TO GO THRU
11:52AM **CHALK FIRE**
11:52AM GETTING CLOSE TO HWY 1
11:51AM 1097 W/CALTRANS
11:51AM FOR FIRE
11:50AM CLOSING RDWAY INTERMITTENTLY 10 MINS AT A TIME
RESPONDING OFFICERS STATUS
11:50AM CHP Unit On Scene

Sorry, I am late getting this up. I am really beat. Was trying to rest. Note, there have been no updates on the CHP page since 11:57 am which says: 1039 27-S2 (It is code to me!)

5:00 pm – Just got back from a field trip to Highway One, and then back toward McKern Rd. with photos. Basically, it looks pretty good to me. The winds have picked up, and up here, at least, they seem to be coming out of the north.

This is pretty typical behavior of the fire I saw on Highway One, between Kirk Creek on the south and Limekiln on the north. There was a strong marine layer, cool and moist, and the fire was for the most part, creeping along the ground. It is right up to the pavement, in a few areas, but lots of crews, engines, water tenders, Cal-Trans, and CHP around. The next one, is a little less typical.

There were several instances of this type of fire behavior. All were at the top of the cliff face.

Back by McKern, things looked well under control. If anything, it may not have been burning as well as they would have liked. A caveat: I could not see the summit of McKern, up by South Coast Ridge Rd., however, I did not see any ominous plumes from that general direction.

6:00 pm – NOTICE; MODIS IS SHOWING A MYSTERY SPOT ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF PREWITT. I went and took visuals from two separate locations, and can see nothing, and no suspicious plumes. I also got ahold of PV Station, and they had seen the same MODIS spot, had checked it out, also nothing. One of MODIS’s infamous hallucinations, it looks like

Also, while out, I noticed that Plaskett Creek Campground was filing up for the weekend, and that Plaskett Ridge Rd. was still open to the public, so I called John Bradford, District Ranger. I actually reached him at the District Office. I said, “John, we have a problem.” “Oh?” “Yes, the campground is filling up for the weekend, and Plaskett Ridge Rd. is open. I will have to close my gates, if the public is allowed up here, and I’d really like to keep it open for the firefighters. So, if you agree that you want it open to firefighters, I suggest you close it to the public. You have a burn out going on in the back, and don’t want the public back there, anyway.” He agreed, and was to make some phone calls and pull last month’s barricade out of storage, or wherever it was. Thank you, John. I have to wonder, though, why did I have to be the one to think of this?

6:00 pm – Rich Phelphs, PIO, USFS just called, the sandwich boards are up, Plaskett is closed to the public.

I will post more when I know more.

4 thoughts on “Chalk Fire, Day 7

  1. 5:43am here. *yawns* Geeze Kate you need some sleep! I’m sorry the smell of smoke woke you up.

    Hope the rain brings that peaceful feeling you crave. The pictures from on top of Prewitt Ridge last night are undescrible.

    Not that there aren’t words that will fit, but its hard to describe someting that is so awful with words of beauty. I guess mother nature in every aspect is beautiful in its own way.

    Its good to hear there are people running errands and getting well needed supplies to you all. I call them the Ventana Angels. The firefighters are angels too, each and every one. My thanks to them for keeping you all safe for us.

    I will check in later. Love you Kate XXXOOOXXXs

  2. Dear Kate,

    Thanks for the info…especailly when I wake to smoke and can’t see a thing! Your website is an important link for us all and I am grateful.

    Robin

  3. kate–worrying about you and your neighbors, but it sounds like the fire crews are phenominal. That has got to be a boon to your mental health–knowing you are in ocmpetant and capable hands.

    Your bogging is awesome–and yes, those tanker pilots are a rare breed; thanks for getting their names up.

    Keeeping you all in my toughts and prayers

    seedy sue

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