Soberanes Fire, Day 10, 7/31/16 – Local Reports

An hour later and that plume from the south eastern edge is almost gone, and we’ve got this one from the south western edge. A burn out operation at the Golden Stairs south of Pico Blanco, maybe??


5:15 pm – current photo from my place:


4:30 – here is a visual of the area of the mandatory evac for Tassajara and parts of Cachagua (warning to the rest of Cachagua) Thanks to Lucas Ryan:


3:30 pm – A backfiring operation in the area of the Upper Preserve was successful to create that coveted “black line” of safety.

5 ATs out of Paso are on a flight path directly over my house. Yesterday there were 8 and several of them made their last run at dusk. Go pilots!! But put your safety first, please.

3:30 pm – from the 1215 hours MODIS flight sent by Jim Kasson:


3:00 pm – Evacuation Center reopened at CMS; Those on Evacuation Warnings in Cachagua and Tassajara, pay attention for the issuance of a Mandatory, if the need arises.


11:00 am – South Side of Pico Blanco facing Post Summit last night. Photo by Matt Peterson or Derric Oliver


10:00 am –  Also from Cachuagua as a result of a back burn being undertaken:

From Cachagua Fire:
Cachagua Fire Chief Curry, along with Battalion Chief del Valle, are working with the Soberanes Fire Incident Management Team and the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office to hereby notify all residents of the Cachagua Fire Protection District that an evacuation warning is being issued.
Residents should know that the fire is approaching the boundary of the district and firing operations will begin today or tomorrow.
Smoke and flames will likely be visible within the Cachagua Fire Protection District as part of this operation. Smoke can be detrimental to the health of the young, old, and those with breathing or heart issues.
You may have received additional information via reverse 911 or from local media sources. We want to emphasize that this is an evacuation warning.
This is NOT a mandatory evacuation order.
For more information, you can contact Chief Curry

10:00 am – From San Clemente Rancho about 2 hours ago:

“To the south, the fire made amazing progress to the east yesterday burning through both the Big Pines and LIttle Pines areas of the Ventana…several miles at least! It is now backing down Blue Rock Ridge towards us (and the Cachugua).

To the West the Fire is making its way towards us via Ponciano Ridge and the South fork of the Black Rock Creek. It is now back out of the forest on our neighbors (the Lange’s & BLM) property.

Cal Fire has laid miles of hose line on the primary firebreak that Hank & I made but we still don’t have the air support everyone would like…the winds are predicted to shift, turning the smoke, not the fire) but that might come too late to help. Going to be a long next few days.”

Also hearing Evac warnings are to be given out to Cachuagua today.


10:00 am – From Richard Cordova, Cal Fire PIO this morning.

Mount Manuel backfire planned for Monday, August 1, 2016
Cal Fire is planning a backfire on the eastern slope of Mount Manuel for Monday, August 1, if conditions are good. They are completing the dozer lines and advance work on this today. The plan is to back burn this section and join it with the larger fire. The timing is dependent on the weather. It may start in the morning but it could also be delayed until any time they determine the ideal conditions. Plan accordingly


7:00 am – West Side of Pico Blanco, photo by Jen Smith


Photos by the Amazing Kodiak Greenwood of Pico Blanco and plume in background. Pico Blanco in this first photo is in the lower right. The burned ridge to the right and behind Pico Blanco is Skinner Ridge. The smoke-free mountain behind Skinner Ridge is Mt. Carmel. The big plume is rising from the Danish Creek watershed and Blue Rock Ridge (overlooking Cachagua) Per our resident expert, Keith Vandervere.


Per Keith, the one above is looking from Pico Blanco down Dani Ridge (with retardant stripe) toward the confluence of the forks of the Little Sur and the ocean. The smaller plume of smoke is coming from the burn out operation at the top of Serra Grade on the Old Coast Rd.


The second is of Moon’s property. Looks to me like most of the structures are still in the green and probably survived. Moon’s road is visible at the bottom. The summit of Serra Grade is on the right. From this photo I’m not sure if this burning is really part of the deliberate burn out or not.

6:00 am – Dawn has finally arrived and I can visually see what is happening. No plumes, smoke is clear – fog socking in most of the coast, but doesn’t look to be very high. I have had an hour to check in, catch up on mail, and the like, and now ready for coffee. It really is a nice day to sit and watch the sunrise from this amazing perch and enjoy a brief respite of calm before the frenetic day of fire reporting begins. Remember to take a moment for yourself, take a nap, if you can. They can do wonders to rejuvenate you. Current IR Topo map puts fire at 38.007 acres. Lucas is busy putting together our maps for us.

34 thoughts on “Soberanes Fire, Day 10, 7/31/16 – Local Reports

  1. Good morning, Kate. Bit of a fright last night in Jamesburg when our usually empty roads were filled with firemen and trucks. Yellow signs posted for each residence. Smoke unbearable. From our hilltop we saw flames on the Padres ridges that burst and smolderd. But then around 10pm the wind shifted, temperature dropped, smoke dispersed. Woke this morning to a blue sky and fresh air!!! Not sure how everyone did last night but here it’s a major reprieve. Look forward to seeing what the maps have to say while I join you in a cup of coffee. Take care everyone.

  2. Adam’s link is to a great IR topo that can easily be zoomed to check on specific locations. Great resource. Thanks, Adam.


  3. Mouth of CV here. Woke up around 4 am to the strongest smell of smoke we have had, which is probably not much compared to a lot of areas.

    Hard to tell fog from smoke here right now.

  4. No winds today please!! Let them attack from all directions!!

    Blue sky’s over DP36 can see the thick smoke over Blue Rock Ridge seems to be creeping back this way now.

  5. Yes, blue skies and fresh air, regenerating while waiting for the expected onslaught.

    I am on the upper part of Tassajara Road, between the Forest boundary and Zen Center coach station, getting a bit concerned about NOT having seen any firefighting equipment, yellow signs, or firefighters. Maybe that is a good sign … others’ need for protection being greater right now. I pray we will receive the same level of excellent protection others have received so far.

    Is there another Multi Agency meeting planned which has to do with Jamesburg, including upper Tassajara Road? We are just 2 miles as the bird flies from Hennickson Trail. That happens to be the distance one of these eager embers flew during this fire (as per a fire person’s answer to my question after CMS meet last week). There is radio talk of backfiring from Hennickson Trail.

    Meanwhile, all remains quiet up here for now … consciously appreciating what I see around me, knowing it may not be here tomorrow.

    Going to Cachgua CERT meet later today.

    Thanks Kate for all you do.

  6. Adam, awesome map, thank you!
    Do you happen to know what the new blue lines on the map indicate?
    Dozer lines? Current expected containment lines? Thank you!

  7. MT,
    Black lines are completed Dozer lines and Blue lines are proposed Dozer lines, but they may not be current. Go to the Dozer maps for the most current info.

  8. 831-204-0446 -CalFire direct info line to operator.

    The more people that call and inquire about meeting for deeper in the valley i.e. Cachagua, Tassajara and Jamesburg areas the sooner we may be able to have one out here more logistically logical for us.

    Thank you Kate for all the info you and your team have provided throughout these hard times for so many. And Of course all the fire crews and personnel involved in this disastrous situation for so many families.

  9. Sunshine, blue skies reminds me that there is hope! As if for a moment, not a worry in the world…how it can lift ones spirit! Thank you, Lord!

    Thank you for the updates everyone, I just walked down and see that we also have yellow cards posted, dated yesterday, on Cachagua.

    Lots of activity on the road yesterday, water trucks coming and going and crews, assuming headed towards the DPs, on Cachagua. It was a welcome sight!

    Continued prayers for the protection and safety over the firefighters, of our communities and comfort for those who have had losses!

  10. Very heavy smoke and terrible air quality at The Crossroads in Carmel, and here in the Highlands right now. By far worse than it has been since the fire began 10 days ago. Hopefully it is being caused by back burning and not more serious fires that might have taken up with the heavy winds yesterday afternoon!!!

  11. Terry, I talked with some firefighters last night in CV Village (I posted about this late last night 7/30 under “Local Reports” thread) – and they did say that there would be more smoke today and Monday as they will be doing a lot of backburning. From the map that Adam posted, it appears that the fire is creeping Southeast as of last night, and at 3 am this morning, according to satellite maps, a little eastern movement too.
    “Expect more smoke” one guy said. Hope this helps.

  12. We live in an amazing community. Thank God and everyone fighting the fire, those providing information/maps, and neighbors helping neighbors.

  13. Thanks So Much for the information, MT. And Kate, what an amazing woman you are, sharing your wisdom, all of the maps, and this important blog with us. Bless You!!!

  14. Thanks, MT, for the information about the awful, nearly unbearable smoke this AM in CV village. Good to know it is backburning and it won’t last (hopefully). Thank-you to all for keeping us informed. Aside from closing windows and staying indoors, does anyone have tips for keeping the body healthy with all this smoke and ash? We have a cat I worry for as well. Thank-you

  15. – If you have a “deer in headlights” feeling about what to do with the fire situation (as I did for days until my “get moving” instincts kicked in finally), I suggest taking these two simple steps for now:
    —-get your most precious valuables OUT of your home and stored somewhere safe (even in trunk of car is better than just lying around your house – but you might need trunk of car to pack your “go” bag – so try to keep the stuff at a friends or at work?). Ask yourself, “What are the items I cannot buy in a store if I need to, and that hold emotional value for me?” Grab those things.
    —pack a “go” bag for yourself and your pets. Keep it easy to grab.

    Once you do this, then start considering actually what you would do, where you would go THE FIRST NIGHT if you were evacuated suddenly. If you can plan further ahead than that, great.

    The evacuees that I’ve talked with are dealing with a lot all at once. My take is that the more we can lay out a contingency plan for “what we might do/take”, the easier it would be if something actually happened.

    Be READY – I did not miss what another person wrote yesterday that a firefighter told her “the embers can travel two miles in the air” when it is windy.
    As one Palo evacuee told me the other night, “you are SO lucky that you have time to prepare. Use your time wisely. Get your stuff out. We had a half hour.”

    I guess what I’m trying to say is …. even doing the smallest thing (gathering treasures into one box to start) is something. Build on it from there.

    God bless you all.

  16. Regine on earlier comment said she was going to Cachgua CERT meet later today. Can us in Cachagua Tassajara area know what meeting is, where and when or does it have nothing to do with fire?

  17. I live in the west side of Carmel and I always go out early in morning to put feed out for the yard birds that sit on the fence waiting for their breakfast. The smell of smoke was stronger than it has been here since the fire started. I was glad to see the post that it was from back burning and not an approaching fire to the communities in this direction. My prayers go out to the folks that are still in the path of this fire and to the brave men and women who are putting their lives on the line fighting this terrible fire.

  18. Joanna, I believe it’s at 1:30 at the Cachagua church today. Someone correct me if I’m wrong–I may be.
    Thank you, MT, for the note of encouragement!

  19. Attention Tassajara Cachagua residents
    Now wanting Kate to do everything for us as she needs her naps. I did my own research about CERT Cachagua meeting and here is what I found.

    “Hey Everybody ! (and please pass this along to anyone I may have missed)
    Immediate response from enough people who want to get together, Sunday !
    Yes ! Talked with Orville and 1:30 at the Church/Ranch is a good time.
    Address: 19345 Cachagua Road
    1. Everyone bring your radios. We will do radio checks and Josh will be available to help anyone who needs programming or tweaking.
    2. We can share information. There are Firefighting crews at Sky Ranch, Chews Ridge, etc.
    3. If anyone has extra backpack sprayers, McCleods, nomex, etc. ? Please bring ’em ! Or any info on getting these items (Pat & Joe) would be helpful.
    See y’all Sunday (July 31, 2016) !”

  20. MT – thank you for your wise words. I’ve got a Red Cross emergency bag packed in my car but need to get all of the other elements in place – just in case!

    VERY smoky out here in the Valley, outside the village. Tom Adams posted a really through report on Kate’s FB page from the meeting last night indicating that we are in for another few days of thick smoke – I can’t see a thing through the fog + smoke layer as I look out towards the Preserve. Just heard a helicopter overhead but otherwise it’s very quiet out here.

  21. Thanks for all the info. For us that love the Big Sur area we appreciate all the reports. Here in Texas we only get the quick tidbits on the news. How is the Plasket Ridge area?

    Thanks again

    Sent from my iPad


  22. Living in the hills above Carmel Valley Village I felt pretty much away from the fire lines, however, this morning I saw at least four fire trucks going past my house and it has me worried that I don’t have the latest information on the fire. I think there is a phone number to call to get the latest so if anyone can provide that it will help. I just ordered air purifiers because I have been coughing from the unrelenting smoke.

  23. This may come as a no brainer to most, but for those who have never been in a fluid situation like this: If you have anything either in your house or nearby such as ammo, BBQ propane tanks, used motor oil or gasoline try to take this with you if you need to leave. The firefighters are putting their lives on the line trying to save your property and the last thing anyone needs is to have one of them injured due to a unanticipated projectile or explosion.

  24. Just watched Mike Mora’s video – THANK-YOU!
    After looking at the “Loving Big Sur to Death” pictures last night, which I found rather disturbing, combined with the over load of bad news and images, this was just what I needed.
    5 minutes of peace and beauty that only Big Sur can do for me.

  25. Just had an informal report of a slow burning fire at Hidden Hills off Laureles Grade. Is this accurate and does anyone have more detailed info?

    Joe Sortais

  26. Apparently there is enough smoke drifting around that there are starting to be false alarms of fire popping up. So repeat no fire at Hidden Hills.

  27. From Robles Del Rio: Thick smoke to the ground. Counted five engines went up to Robles Meadow this morning, one engine parked close to Rosie’s. A neighbor spoke w/firefighters they said they understand this area is a fire trap. They are parking engines there in case Esquiline is unaccessible? They are stepping up reconaissance behind the meadow, some sighters possibly on the top of the ridge?. Our hearts & hopes are with Div F & G right now. Thank you fire crews.

  28. Hello Neighbors,

    I just spoke with Maia Carroll from Monterey Assessors office and she does have information for you about your properties as per her post below. You will need to call her number with the following info.

    1. Property Owners Name
    2. Parcel number.

    For those of you that know your parcel number, you should call right away and leave your name and parcel number on her voice-mail-box. Then be patient for her return call.

    She will look up your parcel and match it with the information provided to her by the fire department (if there is any yet…and yes…she does have information about properties already, but not all of them…as the fire department is still sending her updated information as they access each property)

    Here is her letter to me that she ask me to post for all of you.
    I’ll also post this note on

    Maia Carroll

    Communications Coordinator

    County of Monterey

    Some limited information about damage is available for Palo Colorado residents. Please call 831-796-1900 and leave a message with your name, address and parcel information and a phone number we can call you back at. That information is important to protect people’s privacy.

    Damage assessment teams are still working in the fire area; however, efforts are being made to organize site tours for those whose property has sustained damage. It is important for the Office of Emergency Services to have your contact information if a site visit can be arranged.

    This message is strictly intended for Palo Colorado residents. Please do not forward to protect your privacy.

  29. If you do not have your parcel number, you can access that by going to the Monterey County Assessor’s Office at
    Click On Line Services in left column, click Search and Return Map Pages then use property search function to get your parcel number. When you type in the road name…just put PALO COLORADO… NOT Palo Colorado ROAD (as I tried it that way and it didn’t work)

    Once you have your parcel number then call Maia’s office (Monterey county Assessors office, for information on your Parcel regarding damage. (See my post just prior to this one)

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