USFS Los Padres District enters high response mode

Guess it is time to change over from my winter weather watch to summer fire watch links on the right. Will try to get to that ASAP, but hard to think fire at the moment, unless it is a fire in my wood stove! (It was in the 30’s last night)

Date: May 23, 2012 Los Padres National Forest
6755 Hollister Ave. #150
CONTACT: Andrew Madsen (805) 961-5759

Los Padres Implements High Response for Declared Fire Season

GOLETA, CA…Los Padres National Forest officials announced that wildland firefighters will transition into a “high response” posture beginning May 25 in conjunction with the declared start to fire season. This action is based on low plant moisture levels and increasingly dry conditions across the Central Coast and inland regions. The Forest Service is adopting this heightened posture along with fire departments throughout the local area.

“This past winter and spring saw below average rainfall, and with a hot summer ahead of us we need to take precautions against wildfire starts,” said Los Padres Forest Supervisor Peggy Hernandez. “Our fire staff is shifting to high response and we’ll be prepared for whatever the (fire) season brings.”

As seasonal fire staff report for duty, suppression resources will reach full capacity. The Reload Base at Santa Maria Airport will have full-time staffing throughout fire season. Although Santa Maria is not a Tanker Base, the Forest Service will request air tanker support through national federal emergency managers in the event of a large fire. Full staffing at the Reload Base will ensure that whenever national or Cal Fire air assets are available, the Forest Service will ensure retardant is efficiently reloaded onto the aircraft.

“The Reload Base at Santa Maria is a force multiplier for the Forest and the community,” said Los Padres Fire & Aviation Chief Anthony Escobar. “The retardant loading operation is based on a quick turnaround. It’s ready to go whenever it’s needed and tankers are on-site.”

Forest officials estimate that Level II fire restrictions will take effect next month, and visitors are reminded to exercise caution when enjoying recreation activities in Los Padres.

For more information, visit the Forest website at

Memorial Day weekend, and I MUST have a fire.

Memorial Day weekend has begun. It is traditionally the start of our summer, but Mother Nature has her way with us once again. I am very glad that life got in the way of my planting my tomatoes.

Here it is only 6 pm, and it is only 40 degrees outside … Given that the sun is not even down, yet, freezing temps are possible tonight. Right now, I have built a fire in the wood stove, and am working on building it up to a rip-roaring one tonight. Tomatoes would not fare well tonight, and given the high winds, would have been dead come morning…so maybe next weekend? I guess I better concentrate on Early Girls this year!

Dante Ponce

Dante Ponce passed away suddenly in the early morning of May 16th. He was a first rate manager. . . . and of so much more importance to all of us at the River Inn, a first rate friend. Here is a note that our son-in-law, Michael, wrote on his Blog the other day . . . . .
Nancy Sanders and Alan Perlmutter
I met Dante in the summer of 2000 when I was working at my future father-in-law’s restaurant. I was a few weeks away from turning 21 and Juliette’s dad had given me a job waiting tables for the summer, a job I wasn’t really qualified for and which I probably didn’t deserve. Dante was one of the other waiters on the staff and, like me, he mostly worked lunch shifts so I got to spend a lot of time with him that summer. From the moment I met him, he was always friendly and warm toward me, even though I was a pretty terrible waiter. He was patient and kind, and he helped me a lot. Today I was saddened to learn that he died suddenly and unexpectedly this morning–of a heart attack, I’m told.

I can’t help but regret the fact that I didn’t know him better. We worked together for a summer, and in the years since we always took a couple of minutes to catch up whenever I came back to the restaurant for a visit with the family. There was a lot I didn’t know about him. And yet, looking back, there was a lot I did know. I know he was hard-working, and that he cared about his work and took pride in doing it well. Since that summer we worked together he became a manager at the restaurant, and everyone I’ve ever talked to about him has loved him. I know that he was easy-going, quick with a smile, a genuinely nice person. I know that he loved his family. I know he had a bit of playfulness to him–I watched him spin a serving tray on one fingertip, laughing, one afternoon after the lunch rush was over. I know he will be missed, by me and many others.

I wish I could remember clearly the last time I saw him–but then, it wasn’t remarkable at the time, just another visit home, another meal at the family restaurant. It’s not as though this was something any of us saw coming; he wasn’t even that much older than I am. So many of the moments in our lives that turn out to be important go unnoticed. I guess that’s just the way of things.

My heart goes out to Dante’s wife and children. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a father and husband this way, so completely out of the blue. It’s a tragedy, and we are all the worse for his loss.

Goodbye, Dante. I’m glad I had the chance to know you.
Michael Sakasegawa
A fund has been established to help the family at this difficult time and to assure that Dante’s three sons complete their education. If you would like to help please send your contribution to:
Dante Ponce family Fund, P O Box 126, Big Sur, CA 93920

All contributions will be acknowledged.

(River Inn will be hosting a memorial at a later date)

Cal Trans workers

Just got a call from one family member who was at the bail bonds office. All of the accused Cal Trans members have now made bail and are being released on $50,000 bail, and are being released, even as I type.

I have a tribute to Dante to post, but I haven’t been able to get it on my blog, yet, so will make that a priority tomorrow. Also, I have a press release from the Los Padres Forest on the upcoming fire danger to post as soon as I can.

Finally, Lee Ann posted on FB re a veg fire across from the Big Sur Campgrounds, but I have no confirmation or information re that. Will follow up in the am.

I’ve been out of sorts with two abscessed teeth, and not been up to much of anything for a few days now. Hopefully, the antibiotics are beginning to kick in.

Bail Reduction granted

This morning in court, the same Judge who set bail for the Willow Springs maintenance crew at $1 million dollars each, reduced that bail to $50,000 each. The Deputy District Attorney agreed that bail should be reduced, given the lack of criminal histories by those accused. One DDA asked for and received a no contact order with the witness, as well as a stay away order from their own houses at the yard.

A gentle reminder to ALL community members, anything you say or do toward the witness or his family could be misconstrued and attributed to the defendants, thus resulting in them being tossed back in jail. Be kind in any contacts you may have, if you have any at all. Until this is resolved, we ALL must walk on egg shells for our friends and neighbors.

We learned very little about the charges themselves, today, as at the calendar call, or readiness calendar, on Wednesday, the public defender for one of the defendants continued it until next Friday, the 25th. I intend to be present, if possible.

Monterey County’s Fire Season has begun

Vegetation Fire near 101 and Perris Valley Rd. Mutual aid being sent with E3461, E7462, A/A, and T74. Notified by a retired fire capt living in Paso Robles. Up here, it is quite breezy. The Salinas Valley area is known for its afternoon winds. Will report more when I have more.
UPDATE: Contained at 2 acres.

Sneaky Fitch coming to downtown Big Sur




A Comedy about the Old West
Performed by the Big Sur Little Theater

20% off your ticket price if you come dressed in western attire

Adults $20 Children $5

The cast includes:
Warren Doyle as the title character, Sneaky, (he even got ‘hissed’ at one point!)
Rackham’ the greatest gun in the West, ( Margret Grahame-Doyle)
Sheriff Ogelsby and Maroon, the enticing Dance Hall girl
(more often known as John and Corrine Handy)
Town Doctor played by our very own town doctor, Bill Benda
Gus Thomasson as Vale, the undertaker; Paolo Gonzalez as the Narrator
Jesse Holden as Cowboy Bill Jackson (what a wonderful voice!)
Sterling Novell as Rev. Blackwell; Duke Krenkel as a Cowboy
David Allen as a Cowboy and stage designer; Candis Lefferts as a saloon girl
Eric Harris, Cowboy (they need lots of Cowboys – Rackham keeps shootin’ ’em!)
Gail Chambers, Susan Perry, Woody the horse, and a special appearance by Sagebrush!!