Fire Restrictions in effect

On June 26, 2010, the Goleta office of the Los Padres National Forest issued its 2010 Fire Restrictions order. NO OPEN CAMPFIRES ALLOWED in the National Forest, outside designated, developed campsites, like Plaskett and Kirk Creek. YAY!!

Here is the order issued:

ORDER NO. 10-3-5100-3
Pursuant to 16 USC 551 and 36 CFR 261.50(a), and to provide for public safety and protect natural resources, the following acts are prohibited within the Los Padres National Forest. This Order is effective from June 26, 2010, through the end of the official 2010 fire season.
1. Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire, except in the designated Campfire Use Sites listed in Exhibit A. 36 CFR 261.52(a).
2. Smoking, except in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material. 36 CFR 261.52(d).
3. Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order. 36 CFR 261.52(j).
Pursuant to 36 CFR 261.50(e), the following persons are exempt from this Order.
1. Persons with a permit from the Forest Service specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission.
2. Persons with a valid California Campfire Permit are not exempt from the prohibitions listed above. However, persons with a valid California Campfire Permit may use portable lanterns or stoves using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel outside of a designated Campfire Use Site.
3. Any Federal, State or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.
These prohibitions are in addition to the general prohibitions in 36 CFR Part 261, Subpart A.
A violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both. 16 USC 551 and 18 USC 3559, 3571, and 3581.
Done at Goleta, California this 25th day of June, 2010.
/s/ Peggy Hernandez
Peggy Hernandez
Forest Supervisor
Los Padres National Forest

Fourth of July Weekend has begun

Yes, I know, it is only Tuesday. Yes, I know, we have a 3-day weekend coming up, but based on what I witnessed today, it looks as if the weekend began a bit early.

As of this evening, around 7 pm, Kirk Creek Campground is full. Plaskett was almost full, and I suspect it will be by tomorrow. Frankly, I did not notice the Big Sur State Park. I did not even think to look, it being so early in the week. The other thing I noticed both yesterday and today, is that the gates to Limekiln State Park were open. it will “officially” open on Friday, July 2nd, but I imagine it will be full by then. No camping on the beach, as the bridge is still out, but the campground and redwood trails are open.

Also, the idiots are on the highway. Sorry, but there is no other word for them. The shoulder/pull-out at Rocky Creek was full, so, this car, an obvious idiot, just stopped on the highway. Never mind that there were four cars behind it speeding along at 55 mph. Sudden stops in the middle of the road are just plain idiotic. No one would even THINK of doing that on the freeways, but here? Oh, I know, the view is breath taking. But think about taking that next breath through a tube, or with a respirator, or other medical contraption to keep you alive. Just think. Please. The life you save might be MINE!

I have it on good authority that local patrols in the LPNF, at least here on the South Coast, will be stepped up in anticipation of this crazy weekend. I cannot tell you how grateful I am. I, too, will be out and about, probably several times. With my camera. Do something stupid, and you, too, could end up on my blog – memorialized for an eternity in cyberspace.

Oh, and the other great news? The two fire “rings” I featured in my “How NOT to build a campfire” article, are gone! I love you guys, as much as my dogs! Okay, let’s be real. Almost as much!

But what is a post without a photo? Trouble is, I was too busy trying to get home before dark to unload a fully packed Jeep, while at the same time, trying not to run over any idiots. But my friend Martha Diehl sent me a lovely summer roadside bouquet to brighten my day, and I’m going to pass it on, even though she doesn’t know! (She can flog me later.) Photo coming, when internet allows.

How NOT to build a campfire

Happened upon this a week ago, and it is a great example of what NOT to do when building a campfire. Note the nearby tall, dry, grasses? At least it is not under a tree or in the bushes. I have examples of those, too, which I will add when possible.

Here’s another one, in the grasses, too close to the bushes.

And just to give my readers an idea about the fuel load and fuel ladders here, here are some photos I took 2 days before the Plaskett Fire:

And a closer look:


PV School’s “Camp Big Sur”

Hello! Would you please let your email contacts know of Pacific Valley School’s, “Camp Big Sur: Roughing it with the Blues” for kids ages 8 – 14? I’ve attached the flyer taken from the website and the website is: for more information.

Another important piece of information is the fact that the South Coast Community Land Trust (the people who bring you Big Sur Jade Festival!) is sponsoring 8 partial scholarships for Big Sur kids. It’s on a first come first serve basis so they should call the school first to see if they are eligible for the scholarship. A partial scholarship is worth $240 since the cost of the camp is $480.

Here are the bullet points on the camp: 2 sessions: July 12 – 16 & July 26 – 30. Overnight with all food included. Starts @ noon on Monday and ends @ 2 pm on Friday. Kids will be camping on the lawn of the PV School. Morning hikes are provided by Dave Zweifel (DZ) and the afternoons are for singing, songwriting with Blues
musicians/teachers Val Johnson & Al Blue. Campers will take home a CD of the music they created. Each evening there’ll be campfires with a guest speaker and a Friday afternoon performance for parents upon picking up their child.

If there are any questions, people can call: Pacific Valley School (805) 927-4507.

Monterey District of LPNF to get stimulus money

This morning, I received a phone call from Sherry Tune, District Ranger of the Monterey District of the Los Padres National Forest. She informed me that the District Office of the LPNF has decided to make stimulus monies available to the Monterey District under the American Recovery and Rehabilitation Act for road repair and maintenance. There are a number of roads which will become more accessible for fire fighting in the near future.

A full report of the roads and work to be performed will be released next week, with schedules specific to the various areas to follow as it becomes available. But included (this list is preliminary, not exhaustive) on the list of roads are: Arroyo Seco, Alm’s Ridge, Plaskett Ridge, and Botcher’s Gap.

I will keep my readers informed, as additional information becomes available.

Second minor Big Sur Fire

So, today, Wednesday, June 23, 2010, I reached the highway, and around 2:30 pm, I see two USFS trucks heading south with lights flashing. Okay, they passed Plaskett, so it is not near my house. I head north for a meeting with the Big Sur Ladies (more tomorrow). A few miles south of Esalen, I see another USFS headed south. Okay. I’ve got my laptop with me, and heading for Fernwood, I’ll get online then, and find out what is happening.

I log in. There is a vehicle fire, 2 miles north of the County LIne. Okay. No reason to turn around and head home. Around 3:30, I find out it has turned into a vegetation fire at Salmon Creek. Okay, still no reason to turn around and go home. By 4:00 pm, the fire is reported under control. Okay, now I can relax and enjoy my afternoon and evening with the Ladies of the Sur. Whew.

From now until first rains, all my plans are subject to cancellation due to fire conditions. That is the life I lead during fire season.

Two years ago I was offered an official press pass. I did not think it was necessary. This year, I am going to obtain one. I don’t want to have a hassle if I need to cover a fire in my area. I do my damnedest to stay out of the way, and will continue to do so, but sometimes, citizen reporters, like bigsurkate, are the ones most available and accessible to local breaking news, particularly fires.

Plaskett Fire, the Aftermath

Here is what it looks like now.

Plaskett Burn, 2010

This looks like the same angle that Dave posted of the plume on FB.

It internet Goddess is having a hissy fit, so I will upload the other two photos when I can.

This was just a gentle reminder that fire season is upon us. May we be as lucky the entire summer.

Photo Header Contest Winners

As I said earlier, there was a tie between two photos, so I will feature each for about a month and a half. After I closed voting, and recorded the votes, one more vote came in, and voting may even continue, as I haven’t figured out if there is a way to stop voting. So, what I do, is close the voting on the notices post, remove the link, and count the votes that were cast before the deadline. These are our top three photographs:

Sunset, by Ken Harlan of Lucia Lodge

tied for first place with:
Foggy Bixby by Daniel Danbom
and our runner-up
Sand Dollar Beach by Jessica Westermeyer

Ken Harlan had previously graciously offered a prize of either a SD card, or lunch at Lucia Lodge. But since there was a tie between he and Daniel, he has offered this prize to Daniel. Daniel, I will send you the information about how to claim your prize. Ken has offered to continue his support of this contest with the same prize for the next contest in September. I will notify all of the theme, and the deadlines sometime in August.

Thank you all for entering, and congratulations to our winners!

Summer Solstice & Basin Fire

Today is the longest day of the year, and also the anniversary of the Basin Fire of 2008, the event that launched this blog. Today, I hope to reflect back on that time, and post a couple of photographs I took that day, if the Internet Goddess allows. The first two photographs are mine, but scroll down for the stories and photographs of others. I have also provided a link where others shared their stories last year, and more are doing so this year. What an amazing gift we have in each other!

6:30 pm, June 21, 2008

9:00 pm, June 21, 2008

To those of you still rebuilding after losing your homes to this monster fire, you are in our hearts this day. And some of you may be interested in reading the stories some readers told about this day when I asked for stories a year ago, for others it may be still too painful. You can read them here.

Ken Harlan, of Lucia Lodge, just sent me this note and the following three photographs.

Here are three photos from the start of the fire. When the lighting started that day, I drove north to watch for strikes. The first photo is about 15 minutes after the strike that lit the fire. I was watching that ridge through binoculars as it was hit in the middle of the “black” knoll just below the active flame front. The grass was burning very slowly for about 5 minutes, and then the back side of the cell came through. The winds nearly knocked me down (I’d guess 50+ MPH) and the flames were in the trees 2-3 minutes later.

The next two photos (which I’ll attach to 2 emails to follow) are taken from the west side of 1 at Coast Gallery. Two guys fought to save that cabin on the rocky point to the right in the helicopter shot. Sadly, it later burned. I don’t know the guys or the owner of the cabin, but I always hope to get these photos to them (and I have some more).

It’s more than a little sad to recall that day.

Basin Fire #1 by Ken Harlan

Basin Fire #2, by Ken Harlan

Basin Fire #3, by Ken Harlan

Ken, thank you so much for sharing your story and images with all of us.

Avis was coming home from a town run in Monterey headed south on June 21, 2008, when she first saw the fire. She has sent the next three photos for us to enjoy, with this explanation about the photos. (her story is posted on the stories post previously mentioned):

“Okay here are 3 shots. The first one is what I saw when I rounded the corner before the gallery and first saw the knoll on fire. This was within 2 hours of the fire starting. The second one I like because of the fire tornado. It’s a little out of focus but I was using a cheap camera and the zoom was all the way in. I just like the power it represent in a fire. [ed. note: firefighters call these fire whirls, and I have posted additional info on them under the photograph.] And the last was how huge it got within the few minutes I sat there watching.”

Basin Fire #1, by Avis Latone

Basin Fire #2, by Avis Latone

“Fire Whirls In California…A Firefighter’s Perspective

Royal Burnett March 15, 2008

Fire whirls are one of the most visual and least understood aspects of extreme fire behavior. Many a good plan has been wrecked and lots of firefighters have been burned over as a result of these events. Fire whirls used to be considered rare occurrences, but with the advent of a multiple year drought, increased communications and digital cameras, fire whirls are reported on a more routine basis.

Fire whirls happen infrequently for a brief duration. There is no recording system. The event happens in terrain that varies from flat to very broken mountains, in conditions of no wind to moderate and perhaps high winds, in fuels that vary from light to heavy, so it is nearly impossible to define the conditions under which fire whirls can appear.

We know that fire whirls can develop from energy release or from wind shear caused by the wind interacting with topographic features. Occasionally the convection column is strong enough to form an obstacle to the prevailing wind and fire whirls will develop in the lee of the column.”

Basin Fire #3, by Avis Latone

Avis, thank you so much for sharing your images and story with all of the rest of us. We are blessed in so many ways in this community.