La Brea Fire update, 8/10/09

9:00 pm – Reports below, but first a couple of photographs

Those of you who have been reading my blog over the last year, even if on and off, know of the crystal clear photos I have posted of my view to the north and Cone Peak. This was tonight, around 7 pm. That is ALL smoke, folks, and smoke from the La Brea Fire a county away!

And the sun tonight. But for the smoke, this would have been full of “flares” and blow-outs, and little would have been visible. Instead, the smoke shows us our sun in a different way.

Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 8:13 PM
Subject: La Brea Fire, Santa Barbara County, Update

Los Padres NF

∙ 14,778 acres, 0% contained
∙ Fire very active this afternoon
∙ 40-60 acre spot across ridge above Sierra Madre Road

Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 3:44 PM
Subject: La Brea Fire, Santa Barbara County – UPDATE

* Current acreage – 13,000 acres and 0% containment
* The fire is burning aggressively with two heads on it’s northern flank
* Orders for additional aircraft and 6 engine strike teams are being

The entire forest and wilderness area around the La Brea fire is closed. You can see the boundaries of the closure and the order here:

The fire is almost 15,000 acres now, and still growing, still no containment. We are probably in this one for the long haul.

Smoke is quite visible any where above the fog. Ashes falling in Morro Bay, and areas south.

My friend, firefighterblog has posted a wonderful photo essay of the Zaca Fire which was just a mere two years ago. Click on this link:

This one could easily be the Zaca Fire reincarnated. Zaca burned over 240.000 acres for two months. Smoke could be a way of life for us in the Central Coast, just as it has been for Alaska this summer, where over 2 MILLION acres have burned.

Big Sur quiet, La Brea continues

The Ponderosa Fire area is still closed, as of this morning. That means Nacimiento Rd is closed and the South Coast Ridge Rd. is closed. I have been informed that mop-up is pretty much finished, so I expect the roads to open soon.

What I can’t believe is that the smoke is this heavy from the La Brea Fire. I can only imagine how much worse it must be down south. I have scoured my sources to make sure there isn’t anything closer, but can find nothing to explain the smoke other than La Brea, one county south.

Inciweb had this to report this morning, and the press release issued at 9 am mirrors this inciweb post:

08/10/2009 @0600
The La Brea Fire, which started on Saturday, August 8 at 2:50 pm, continues to burn in an area of the San Rafael Wilderness that is very steep and difficult to reach on the ground.
Heavy 87 year old fuels (vegetation), long range spotting and moderate to rapid rates of spread have continued to hamper fire fighters in their efforts to contain the fire. Extreme fire behavior has been observed since the fire began. Flames from the fire could be seen on the Sierra Madre ridgeline from areas along SR-166 yesterday afternoon and evening. Last night fire behavior was moderate due to increased relative humidity and no major runs or spotting were observed.
The portion of the forest from the intersection of SR-166 and Sierra Madre Road east to McPherson Peak, south to the Sisquoc and west to the forest boundary is currently closed due to the fire emergency. Campgrounds in the area have been evacuated.

Basic Information
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Under Investigation
Date of Origin Saturday August 08th, 2009 approx 02:50 PM
Location 26 Miles east of Santa Maria
Incident Commander Jeanne Pincha – Tulley
Current Situation
Total Personnel 580
Size 10,500 acres
Fuels Involved
Chaparral (6 feet)
Fire Behavior
Fire behavior was moderate last night due to increased relative humidity. No major runs or spotting was observed.
Significant Events
A closure of the forest in and around the area of the fire is in place. Evacuations of hunters and campers in front of and adjacent to the fire were made.
Planned Actions
Continue direct attack on the southern and east perimeter of the fire. Crews will also continue constructing contingency lines outside of the wilderness.
Growth Potential
Terrain Difficulty
CIIMT Team-3 (Pincha-Tulley) assumed command of the fire this morning at 0600.