Soberanes Fire, Day 15, 8/5/16 – Local Reports

If you are going to  the clinic tomorrow, Saturday, with all the various agencies, and you have suffered during this fire, you might want to take advantage of this offer posted in my comments tonight: “Free Stress Reduction Clinic- Ear Acupuncture – Community welcomed – Sat August 6 noon – 4 pm at Community Church of the Monterey Peninsula – ? call Laurie Kleinman M.D .831 320-9560

7:15 pm – the smoke is horrific down here. I cannot see anything at all. I hope this is a burn out. This is bad. No sunset for me tonight.

5:30 pm – photo by Sandra O’Keefe Bellamy from Laureles Grade


2:45 pm – planes flying overhead from Paso going north to fire – maybe? Haven’t heard any more or any returns in quite a while (5:30 pm)

2:10 pm – Mt. Manuel by Barbara Sexton from Rancho Rico, who also notes a helicopter just flew over with a bucket. Hmmm…


12:30 pm – from Frank Pinney:

“I just got back from the 10:00 Cooperators Meeting at Toro Park, where Martha or I or Cal Fire Bn Chief Mike Martin serve as Agency Representatives for the Brigade daily.

Firing out on the east side of Mt Manuel at tactical points will begin Saturday or Sunday at the latest. Ops is allowing time to get the hand lines needed to help contain and direct the new fire that will be introduced by the hand crews that will reduce the probability that there can be a run uphill to reach the primary fire break uncontrolled.

Firing out is always tricky because they are placing new fire ahead of the main front, so the conditions have to right on target.

Hand line at Gorge highest priority and tie in to the North Coast Ridge Road Firebreak continues to be improved. Frank Zabrowski has tied in with Branch VIII Sur Ops to share historic local knowledge. Still planning to have a community meeting Monday at 6PM at the MAF depending on fire behavior over the weekend (fire ops looking very positive at this time)”

Frank Pinney
Chief Emeritus

12:05 pm – Oh, great. They have expanded the LPNF closure to Nacimiento-Fergusson RD on the south end, thus pushing all the hikers and campers down into our end. Why not close the entire Monterey District??? Now we have to deal with all the illegal campfires with only 1 ranger?? This is idiotic, and if I see Bob Baird on Sunday, I will tell him so,


11:30 am – Well, the OES alert system works, and I am signed up, I guess. Two phone calls and 1 email notifying me that the air quality in the Big Sur area, all the way down to the county line is unhealthy, and we are advised to stay indoors with window and doors closed. Okay, I knew that. I also know I can’t close my windows and doors due to temperatures. So there I am. I will get a respite for a couple days soon, though.

10:00 am – Working on widening Hopkins Ridge hand line today, I am told, which is the one down from Mt. Manuel to the Big Sur River gorge Micah mentions below.

9:00 am – from Micah Curtis: “The fire is on Santa Lucia Ridge which runs up from the Little Sur river to Posts summit they were dropping retardant on it yesterday to keep it from blowing up and over Posts Summit and into the valley. They are hoping to to get good conditions to backburn off the dozer, retardant line from the old coast road over Posts summit and mount Manuel they have a hand line from Mount Manuel down into the Big Sur river gorge. The line is unlikely to hold without the backburn, ….”

8:30 am – here is Xasauan Today‘s map: (not looking good for Cachagua or Big Sur Valley, although Cachagua was prepped for a big firing operation last night. The one for Big Sur Valley may have been canceled due to winds.)


Today’s update from resident of Post’s Ranch “…the fire is near Apple Pie now. Unfortunately a backfire was never started due to high winds so only retardant and heroic clearance efforts stand between fire and many homes including Melissa’s house right now (about 1 mile). She is packing and moving things up here (Post’s) tomorrow…. We have about a 3 day wait until the fire could be here. I am packing photo albums and made an evacuation list to pack if we get a warning. The air is thick with smoke but it’s ok inside. Planes and helicopters flew over us all day. They sounded wonderful!”

6:00 am – I remember when this used to be an ungodly hour for waking and moving about, never mind writing a cogent sentence. I am confident it will be again, just not confident about when that will happen.

Total acres 53,726

From last night taken by Cache Swanson from Jack Swanson’s Ranch:


41 thoughts on “Soberanes Fire, Day 15, 8/5/16 – Local Reports

  1. I love that you used a word like “cogent” at 6 in the morning!
    Thanks for all you do!

  2. Has this tragedy taken Jack English’s cabin? I hope not. Morro Bay and Los Osos are now in the third day of heavy mixture of marine layer and smoke. I had to close my always-open bedroom window last night, having been awakened by the stench. Thank you Kate, for your service to the Big Sur-and-beyond community. wb (former owner of Coast Ridge Outfitters Camp Store @ Fernwood)

  3. Praying for all in the Chacagua area that the fire fighters are as successful there in saving homes as they were here on the Santa Lucia Preserve. God be with you all.

  4. Kate, my brother called from Maine because he found your incredible website. Thank you so much. You ARE our bright light of information….so much love surrounds you!

  5. Della, I have notes from the meeting if you need them. Basically, Active backfires in Cachagua area. There are still a lot of hot spots. In the southern portion the area is more deep seated and in the wilderness, more difficult to get at. They are shifting a lot of personnel, equipment, that area. They also mentioned now having 100 National Guard troops on both the north and south sides.

  6. I heard birds this morning for the first time in awhile and I was hopeful. Praying that I can remain that way. My heart breaks for families who have lost their homes and those who wait anxiously to hear if they can return to theirs, the animals in fear. Stay safe everyone.

  7. Thanks, Aletha. I somehow deleted them last night, I guess, cuz they were gone this morning. BEU tweets that California Guard is on the move and on its way here.


  8. I have been thinking about the start of this fire… someone is ALWAYS filming as they drive down the highway, and don’t CHP and Sheriffs have dashcams? look at videos of the cars parked at Soberanes day or two before this lit up. that ‘camper’ was parked there. someone has a picture of the car and license plate… how to get that ? sure would be nice to spank them

  9. Coastridge: Jack English’s cabin/ Pine Valley are still 3-4 miles from fire at this point. There was a *rumor* (underscore several times) that his son’s truck was stolen at gun point when he returned from checking on cabin. Hope this turns out not to be true.

  10. Lucas and Denise. Thank you so much for the Periscope link to watch the community meetings. Even though I was there, it is great to go back and watch it again.

  11. Sometimes I wish I had a magic wand and delete all references to Big Sur from the internet… until a time like this when “help” is needed. (some great local support going on) Or at least an “idiot/asshole” scanner – to “take care” of the “illegal/unattended fire” and “Jack English’s son” people and the like.

  12. photos of the person who started this fire exist, or their car parked at Soberanes. all those packs of rented motorcyles with at least one of them with a GoPro camera on their head, the pictures are out there. about once every 15 minutes one of those packs goes by. have the fire investigators been chasing stuff like this? the motorcycle tour and rental companies MUST have the perpetrators car and license on video… someone has a video of this and isn’t even aware of it, but the info is out there. Kate, can you prod the investigators? or how can someone get them to chase a lead like this? or am I just crazy?

  13. or, geez, if someone can point me in the right direction I’ll do it. but I’m not very diplomatic or presentable, I might not be the best for something like this to the folks in uniform

  14. Arson Hotline (Cal Fire)
    looking for any and all information regarding the cause of Soberanes Fire

  15. I agree with the comment above about closing ALL of LPNF in Monterey Co. until this fire is over.
    Last night, 8/4, in PV where Valley Center use to be, I talked to 4 college aged guys from Oklahoma who were unloading their rented mini van with camping equipment AND fire wood! They said they saw the fire restriction sign and were going to obey it, but when they were down near the bluffs looking for a “site”, they saw a few “campfire” (illegal, of course) places and “thought it was ok”. Since the powers that be don’t seem concerned with all the illegal camping and fires from them (camping on pullouts on N-F Rd is illegal b/c you have to be 100 feet from the center line of a national forrest/preserve road- it’s also illegal on the west side of Hwy 1 In SLO Co.- why not here in Monterey Co.!?), we have to ‘patrol’ our lands ourselves, I guess. I informed them of our illegal campfire wildfire going on and the devastation caused from a person that thought the laws don’t pertain to him and explained that just b/c they saw other illegal campfire remnants, that doesn’t make it “ok”. They didn’t have a shovel or water, either. I gave them a garbage bag and asked them to pack out their trash, as we don’t have trash removal service in the wilderness, as most tourists seem to think by looking at the trash/TP on all the pull-outs. They said they would. We’ll see…. after work I’m going down there to (probably pick up trash) and try to erase all the illegal campfire spots as best I can. PV has illegal campfires nearly every week! Before last year, I never saw anyone camp there :'(

  16. Tech has a lot to do with the increase in folks going to Sur. With a smartphone, you can text (even when you can’t get full service) and “invite” others to come. My son and I experienced this firsthand last Summer when we were in the Sur…tourists at Soberanes Point, watching whales, texting their friends to “come on down”. Shortly, more cars came and began blocking the highway. We left, disgusted. When you had to rely on home phones and maybe a little internet to “pass the word”, it took TIME. Now it’s instant. IMO, tech is also responsible for the ‘detachment from nature’ that we see in so many folks.

    Hang in there everyone. I am watching and pulling for y’all from here in Texas. And KATE….fantastic job, as always. You honestly make it “don’t know what we’d do without ya”!

  17. Agreed about Southcoast campers….I drive down weekly and will leave time in my commute to have a chat with these folks. Never seen so much Trash near PV and folks camping. This disrespect for Mother Earth is embarrassing as a human.

  18. New base camp being built at Patriot’s Park, Greenfield via latest local TV media report..

  19. To the billionaire techie who had his much talked about wedding in Big Sur two years ago(?) and so loves the area??….. How about a donation of gravity to CalFire to entice those who may know who started this debacle to come forward.

  20. thank you big sur kate. you were my lifeline as the fire raged through my neighborhood. your information is spot on and invaluable for us. i start my days and end them with your first notes and updates of the soberanes fire, as it moves through and forward into others lives and fire’s scars. thank you big sur kate for being you and endlessly being there for us.

  21. Last night was the first night I actually got a good’s night sleep since the fire started two weeks ago. Last night, on the map, it finally looked as if our home was protected from the advancing fire. I hadn’t realized how tense I was, until I saw the “black line” of containment between us and the fire. I wanted to cry with relief. It was a miracle. I felt the relief in every cell of my body.

    I slept well only because of the incredible efforts of thousands of men and women who are working intelligently, strategically, tirelessly, to “outthink” the fire that just wants to gobble up everything it possibly can, the fire that knows no rules, cares about nothing else except consuming everything it possibly can, the fire that just days ago was making its way to my home. Rapidly. And the wind wasn’t helping the situation. It seemed the fire was coming straight for us, across unscalable terrain, with overcast skies and no way for planes/copters to dump… I’ll admit: I didn’t see anyway it could be stopped.

    But stop it they did. The firefighter are heroes. Incredible, brave, smart, strong heroes.

    I’m AMAZED at how much of the fire they have averted, how little damage there has been! Look at the maps! It’s miracle after miracle! If you see the terrain (steep, rocky, hard to climb up, hard to even stand on for long) – you know we are currently surrounded by thousands of heroes. No small feat what they are pulling off. I’ve never seen anything like this. I feel so grateful.

    I’m being grateful for the miracles, but this doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten any of the horrors that have already passed. All of this is still just sinking in – and sometimes I just break into tears. It’s too much to take in. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know how to process all that has – and is still happening.

    I didn’t want this day to go by without sharing my deep gratitude – and I’m sure others feel the same. All these people have come from far away just to save us – and I don’t even know their names! Thank you heroes!!!!!

  22. Hopkins Ridge is being reopened by dozers. The road runs from Mt. Manuel to Highway 1 on Don Tosh’s old property that is now part of the State Park. This is different than the hand line from Mt. Manuel to the gorge.

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