Patrolling a tinder box …

This evening, before sunset, I met one of our local USFS FFs patrolling Plaskett. I was so glad to see him. He grew up here. His lineage dates back to one of the original settlers here on the South Coast. This land is in his blood and he knows it like I never will and probably loves it more than I do. I’ve known him since he was in 6th grade when I worked at the local one-room school, and that was … 20 years ago? Really? That long ago?

It was so good to see him, and know there were other “eyes” up here on a Friday night, when all the campers and hunters are filling the place up because there is no where else to go. Campgrounds are full.

With triple digits temps, single digit RH, and two fires having burned to the east of me in the last two days, and six in August alone here on the Central Coast, I breathed a sigh of appreciation for his presence. I did not realize how alone I felt up here, until I saw him. I think I can relax a little.

We stopped and chatted for a moment. I told him, “You know, I’d almost rather it come at me, then have all this anxiety of waiting and dreading when it does. Sort of like going to the dentist.” He laughed, but I think he knew what I meant.

I knew my banjo strings were pulled a little too tight after last Friday’s confrontation with the campers with the campfire. But to know that sometimes, and especially on these hot, dry Friday nights, other eyes will be watching out for this forest of ours, brings a quiet calm over me when I most need it.

Thank you.

Gloria Fire, 8/28/09

8;00 pm update: (I just got home so most of these are from the last couple hours)
at 6 pm – CalFire just updated
6,000 acres – 15% contained
1 residence destroyed

This was posted at 7 pm, from a guy w/ Benito/Monterey CalFire: “The fire spotted over the line in NE corner around 1400PDT and made large run toward the South. This was about1 hour after AT 911 [ed-DC-10] made a drop. At that time they released them from fire back to Victorville. They had to reorder the VLAT [very large air tanker] later on. It made 3rd drop of the day around 1700PDT returning after reloading at McCulen AB. for 4th drop of day Watching VLAT drop 3 times showed how well this weapon works when it has room. All of the drops I saw seemed to go for ever.”

And for the view from on Top o’ the World — lots of smoke to the east, both down toward Bryson, and up toward Gloria. No significant plumes just before sunset.
Triple digit temps, and single digit RHs expected to continue through the weekend.

11:00 am update: California Professional Firefighters Association is reporting: “Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Monterey Counties in response to a new flurry of wildland fires dotting the coastal counties.

Some 1,500 residents of Rancho Palos Verdes were forced out of their million dollar homes by a stubborn blaze, and a new Monterey Co. fire near Soledad has burned more than 5,000 acres.” (original report of 8K was a typo in original quote.)

These three shots were taken between 7:30 am and 8:00 am. Here’s the smoke from the Gloria Fire from my front deck:

Here’s the smoke from the Gloria Fire from out back:

Finally, the smoke from the Bryson Fire shot through the skeletons of last year’s Chalk Fire:

9:00 am update – went out and took a look, not much to see. Smoke, but no plumes. And on the top of the Santa Lucia’s I can see the smoke from the Bryson, which is still burning to the south and the smoke from the Gloria burning to the north. Quite a perspective. I do have some shots, but not together — distance too great. What a view, though! Photos to follow.

NOTE: NOAA issued red flag warning for Pinnacles, area of Gloria Fire, Santa Lucias, and Los Padres National Forest. Warning in effect until noon today.

7:00 am – There is a lot of smoke out there. A quick check for info, then I’m off to the back to take photos. I can see the plumes from here, amid the trees, but want to get better shots.

I checked with Cheryl, and while she thinks the fire got to the edge of the ranch (it is 21K acres), nothing threatening her, but it is headed toward both Soledad, which is under threat today, and Pinnacles.

It is 5000 acres and 0-15% contained, depending on the source of information. 30-40 homes are threatened. It doubled overnight. Today is supposed to be hotter and drier, too.