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.

9 thoughts on “Summer Solstice & Basin Fire

  1. Ken and Avis, I have to say that that photo of the helicopter — Ken’s #3 — , and the one of the large plumes — Avis’s #3 — are both unbelievable shots. Well done, both of you!

  2. Kate – How far has fire fighting and technology come hand in hand in aiding better strategies to contain these fires from becoming overly historic?

  3. Some truly amazing photos. I’ve never heard of a fire whirl, much less seen a picture of it. Wow! Scary stuff!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.