Chalk Fire, Night 9: A trip through the black zone

Ah, today was a good day. I made the rounds. Saw much. Talked to many. Feel really good, while tired.

Tonight, I offer you some of the photos I took today. This first is iconoclastic. It is the sign for the Nacimiento USFS Fire Station, just before one reaches the summit. You will note that the sign is completely burnt through on the right side. There is a burnt tree behind it. This is on the south side of N-F Rd. The part that is burned off, used to say: “1/4 mile.” It is gone, now.

Here, we have a firefighter making his way up Alms/Prewitt Ridge Rd. He is swinging his shovel in front of him to maintain the rhythm of his pace. Most of the faces we saw in trucks, on hand crews, in equipment, were very tired. These guys and gals work so very hard, for long hours, to sleep in tents, eat MREs, and stay dirty for days and weeks on end. Not a job I would want! God bless you!!

This is on the north side of N-F Rd. There are whole areas that are denuded, like this one. I see slide problems this winter on both N-F Rd. and So. Coast Ridge Rd, particularly on Chalk Peak. I had a slide specialist with me, who confirmed my opinion. I have given my gate combos to Betty, Rocky, and Sarah. Make sure you have it, and carry it in your vehicle this winter, in case you need it.

Mother Nature and her critters informed me that She is okay. In one of the creeks on N-F Rd., the water was still running, and the fire had burned down to the banks on both sides, but it still flowed, and the critters still came to drink. I stopped to photograph the phenomena, and was gifted with a sighting of this doe, and her 2 almost grown fawns, which I photographed separately. Look at how she looks at me. Such a blessing amid all the devastation! Thank you, Mother Nature!!

There was a lot of helicopter action on the west side, near the highway. I was very fortunate to be able to capture some great shots — helicopters so close, you could ID the pilot, dipping water out of the ocean, and dropping on top of the ridge. It was very difficult to choose one that was representative of these efforts. I used a dart board to pick these two:

That’s Kirk Creek Campground in the background, and here is the drop:

And that, my friends, is tonight’s blog and photo offerings. Enjoy.


Chalk Fire, Day 9

6:30 am = Day 9? Groan… Initial visual and weather. Cold, clear, and no wind. I have my window to the world back, and cannot see any plumes, at the moment. I’ll check again in an hour or so, and see what is visible and where. I’ve GOT to have a couple cups of coffee, first. Inciweb should report a pretty quiet night.

7:00 am – NO increase in acreage last night!! Still sitting at 12,168 acres. Containment is 37%, and all mandatory evacuations have been LIFTED!! YAY!! Evacuation watches still in effect. Growth potential has been downgraded from the “high” it has been listed at for 8 days, to “medium” currently. CDF crews have gone home, but engines are still here, personnel is down to 1253. All good news on the home front!

Of course, weather is heating up during the course of the week, so we are not out of the woods, but I do think the worst is behind us, and that the Jade Festival will be able to proceed as planned! Make sure you drop by the SCCLT Main/Information booth at the “front” entrance by the flag pole and say, “Hi.”

9:30 am – here is your morning visual, ladies & gentlemen. Isn’t it the most gorgeous thing you have ever seen? NO plumes!!

That is Cone Peak on the right, and Twin Peak on the left. There are still a contingency of fire trucks parked at the top of Prewitt Ridge.

10:00 am – the ex just called, and wants to be my driver, so I can go out and catch some “after” shots. Sounds like a good way to spend the day, to me. Despite rumors to the contrary (what WOULD the South Coast be without its rumors?) the ex and I are NOT involved again. He just likes to drive, get out, check things out, and right now, I am a good excuse! He misses being on the road and in the middle of the action, now that he is retired. The dozers are coming through here in the next hour or two, and will be “brushing” out Plasket.

9:00 pm – Tonight’s update:
Chalk Fire Evening Update – Oct. 5

Fire Statistics
Acres burned: 12,168
Miles of fireline to build: 21
Date started: 9/27/08 (evening)
Percent contained: 37%
Expected containment: 10/17/2008
Firefighter injuries to date: 11
Structures threatened: 9 residences; 15 outbuildings
Structures destroyed: 0
Suppression cost to date: $9.697 million

Firefighting Resources
Crews: 22
Engines: 61
Helicopters: 10
Air tankers: 2
Dozers: 9
Total personnel assigned: 1,208

I will post more, when I know more, but I am probably going to take most of today off, coming back with reports around 4 pm. It IS a beautiful, sunny, Sunday! 😎