After the 2nd week of extremely hot and dry conditions in Big Sur, I called Bradford in King City to air my concerns. Last Friday (okay, I admit I only “glanced” at the Pine Cone, and missed this one) Chris Counts of the Carmel Pine Cone submitted this article:
Ironically, fire danger returns to Big Sur
By CHRIS COUNTS
WHILE THE California Department of Transportation is working overtime to reduce the threat of erosion in Big Sur, a meteorologist has a piece of advice for residents worried about mudslides and flash floods.
“Get a weather radio,” said Tom Evans of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Monterey office.
With its hillsides stripped bare of erosion- controlling vegetation as a result of recent wildfires, officials are warning Big Sur residents to prepare for mudslides and flash floods in the event of wet weather.
While a simple electronic device can’t stop an onrushing wall of mud or water, it can potentially warn residents of an impending disaster.
“It works like a smoke detector,” Evans explained. “It makes a loud noise as a warning.”
Just last week, NOAA announced the installation of a transmitter at the Post Ranch. From its strategic location, the transmitter will allow the federal agency to communicate emergency bulletins.
“We were very fortunate to get permission,” Evans said. “They have a nice hill up there for getting information out.”
Because of Big Sur’s uneven terrain, some residents will be unable to receive the transmitter’s messages. But many, particularly those living atop ridges, will now be able to get an emergency warning.
An optional antenna is available to improve reception. And while the radios are powered by electricity, they can also run for two days on a pair of AA batteries.
For anyone interested in buying a weather radio, Peninsula Communications in Salinas is offering First Alert model WX-200 weather radios at cost, $45.60. Or email Dick Ravich at email@example.com to place an order.
While residents are being warned to prepare for mudslides, fire season season returned to Big Sur in the middle of January, thanks to last week’s hot, dry weather. It turns out that the Basin Complex Fire, which ignited seven months ago and was fully contained July 27, is still burning.
The Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade received a report of smoke in the upper
reaches of Partington Canyon. The fire was in a location which heavily burned last summer, but a small amount of fuel apparently remained.
Assistant fire chief Martha Karstens said that fire was one of three flare-ups reported in Big Sur last week.
“I don’t think anybody anticipated such hot weather,” Karstens said. “On Partington Ridge, it was in the 90s.”
Firefighters know that embers can survive — deep inside a tree, for example — many months after a fire is officially out, and when hot, dry weather returns, the fire can suddenly break out again. Fire danger is still serious.
While there is nothing residents can do to change the weather, there’s a lot they can do to make their homes safer from wildfires.
Karstens said this is the perfect time to clear brush around residences, especially in neighborhoods west of Highway 1, which last summer’s fires didn’t reach.
“Clear, clear, clear,” she suggested.
While it may have felt like fire season outside, technically it wasn’t. Much of Los Padres National Forest is closed as a result of fire damage, and a temporary ban on fires exists at Pfeiffer Beach. But visitors can still make campfires or use portable barbecues at several campgrounds and picnic areas, including Plaskett Creek and Kirk Creek campgrounds, and Sand Dollar Beach, Mill Creek and Willow Creek day use areas. And south of Prewitt Ridge, the backcountry is still open to hikers, who are allowed to start campfires where designated fire rings exist.
If not enough rain falls soon, it’s quite possible the U.S. Forest Service will tighten fire restrictions. “We’ve had some internal discussions,” said Mike Kremke, division chief of the Monterey ranger district. “It’s starting to become a concern for us.”
And this just in from a Monterey Hot Shot: “”fire danger its still out there, i did a little test burn in grass today at liggett to see if and how flammible the grasses are after this last rain.. and wow they sure still went up pretty good… i believe the temp. was 64 and the rh was 38 and still burned good”