Soberanes Fire, Day 17, 8/7/16 – Local Reports

9:00 pm – I am trying to catch up with my email, FB, Twitter, etc. after  a day on the road and the fundraiser tonight. (Sorry I couldn’t stay around, it was way too crowded and way to loud for this gal.) I had hoped to meet some of you, but it just wasn’t to be. There is so much to say, and do, and be, but after 17 days, I am tired … As we all are. I don’t hold the title to that, we do. The battle is not over, in fact, in some ways, it has just begun for Big Sur, and I need to get up to fighting speed and strength again. I may not wake at 6 am tomorrow, as I am no longer at home with the early dawn of elevation looking down on me and nudging me toward wakefulness. I am in unfamiliar territory where my exhaustion may win. Rest, but be ever vigilant, as this monster does not want to let go.

Sikorsky @Rancho Grande by Heather Foster:


Evacuation of Big Sur clarification:


2:30 pm – Scott Moffatt has some incredible photos of the progression of the fire starting at 4 am.

Scott Moffatt Photos

1:30 pm – drove through the entire length of Big Sur this morning. It was so smokey, I couldn’t see much of anything. ALL the businesses were closed, from Deetjen’s to River Inn, but the tourists were flocking through. There was little police presence, only at Sycamore’s Hard Closure. Tourists were tearing down the yellow tape all over JPBurns, but I saw no one of authority.

That makes perfect sense … Keep the people out who know the area and know how to be safe, who have lived through numerous wildfires, and let the clueless tourist wander about with abandon.How was this for the local’s safety, again? What am I missing here? In what uninverse is a wildfire safer for the clueless than for the experienced?

12:30 pm – just had lovely lunch at Sur. When I get settled in up here I will tell you my observations driving through Big Sur.

This is Stan Russell and appears to be the “party line” and not what I am hearing or observing. “The evacuation notice issued last night was issued because a 40 MPH wind kicked up and pushed the fire over the dozer line. The slop over fire was a 100 acres. This is the main fire that made the run.

Operations today; they are burning off the dozer lines – back firing. The operation is going well. (Really??)

They will have full air support as soon as they can fly safely. They also have portable fire retardant stations to load up the helicopters.

They weren’t able to back burn the area behind Mount Manuel yesterday.

There will be Public Information Officers posted today at Big Sur Station, Post Office area, Big Sur Bakery, Fernwood Resort, Nepenthe, Ripplewood, and I recommended posting one at the River Inn which he said he would do. They will have sandwich boards with maps and be able to answer your questions.”

At this point the Sheriff’s Department is NOT closing Highway 1, which makes no sense. As one business manager says, “The tourists are allowed in but owners and workers aren’t?”

7:00 am – from Ken Wright who says flames are visible in the north fork of Juan Higuera


7:00 am – From Jen Smith on Clear Ridge


7:00 am – From Ed Van Weijen on Clear Ridge


7:00 am – For all of those asking if Highway One is open — I don’t know, yet, but PLEASE, if you don’t have any business being down here, don’t come. All businesses have been evacuated and are telling employees not to come to work. We don’t need any more gawkers. AND just got word it is expected to close this am at Bixby Bridge.

6:45 – Dawn on Mt Manuel from Pfeiffer Ridge by Kyle Evans


6:30 am – by now, all of you have heard of the evacuation order for Big Sur Valley from the Lighthouse to just north of Deetjen’s, both sides. I will be following developments throughout the day, however, I will be heading out the door at 8:30 am into cell phone no-man’s land for a while. When I have reception again, I will check in. This is my day to go north to Monterey for a couple days of R&R. (LOL, as if) but will be online on and off.

57 thoughts on “Soberanes Fire, Day 17, 8/7/16 – Local Reports

  1. Any update on hwy 1 closure at bixby bridge or anywhere else along big sur?

  2. This from Xasauan Today: “The bottom line is this: While there is clearly fire over the line, at least in the vicinity of Post Summit, it is quite possible that firefighters may be able to knock it down from the air or contain it on the ground before it backs down into inhabited areas (in a repeat of 2008). The 2008 fire was aided by drier conditions and an offshore breeze. The sense of deja vu we’re all experiencing this morning is, obviously, strong, but things could still turn out better this time.”

  3. Evac order has been lifted for Weston Ridge Road aka former Garrapata Ridge Road (not Garrapatos) :
    From CalFire site:
    EVACUATION ORDERS LIFTED: For Weston Ridge Road (aka Garrapatas Road), White Rock, Robinson Canyon Road, South of San Clemente Trail from Robinson Canyon to Rancho San Clemente Gate House, from San Clemente Trail to White Rock Gun Club Santa Lucia Preserve, to include Arroyo Sequoia Road, North of San Clemente Trail/Dormody Road, including Black Mountain Trail, Touche Pass, the community of San Clemente and all of Long Ridge Trail, Riley Ranch Rd and Red Wolf Drive, Corona Rd and all of Carmel Highland.

  4. Bad news, good news – so sorry to hear that Big Sur is Evac’d, but they will fight hard for it. Good news, Highlands and Weston Ridge Road evac order removed.
    Hope we can go home soon. Although our house is reportedly still there, we will go in first to check it out before moving back…

  5. What a mess, force the hotels to kick out their guests early in morning, have all the staff take the day off, make all the residents in the valley bounce. Yet allow the highway to remain open so they can cruise through the “evacuated” area. Someone needs to make clear headed decisions cause I feel like this is a joke.

  6. This is typical of what happens in with evacuation “warnings and orders” and road closures. Out in Cachagua we have been bouncing between “hard” and “soft” closures for a week with no real explanation or common sense involved(at least to observers). Perfect example was 2 days ago when many dozers and fire trucks left the area only to have Tassajara Road closed “hard”(nobody but fire personnel) right afterward, only to have it changed to “soft” (local residents only) the next day as the flames and smoke increased dramatically. We understand that conditions can change dramatically and quickly but lets try and make some sense.

  7. Visibility at Nason Road was under heavy smoke. Let’s let them get the equipment out and keep people safe.

  8. the fire information line folks (204-0446) just (1pm) told me that _all_ private roads west of hwy 1 between Andrew Molera SP and Graves Canyon have been closed by MCSO.

    This definition would include Clear Ridge Road (between River Inn and Sycamore Canyon) but CR Road isn’t listed in any of the closure announcements.

    fire information also said that the private road closures now in effect are hard closures that would not allow residents to re-enter these roads once they have left.

    I haven’t been down to hwy 1 today on either Pfeiffer Ridge Rd or Clear Ridge Rd: anyone have any info about closures on these two roads?

  9. Heartbreaking news, damn it all, I’ve been hallucinating the fire’s out because the Carmel Valley smoke is so cleared out, blue skies and breathable air and almost no ash. Oh I want it gone. We all do, I know, stay safe everyone.

  10. Mark, I can understand your frustration with having things change so quickly and not understanding the “why” or “what” of the situation. I do not believe that just because we don’t understand what the firefighters are doing – it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t using common sense – it means it’s all part of a bigger chess game, which honestly, they are fighting valiantly, strategically and they are impressing the heck out of me and many others (limited fire knowledge myself, but it’s obvious from the way this fire grew in even the first 12-24 hours, that it is a stubborn and very starving beast, wanting to consume anything and everything it can).
    I don’t know how they are achieving the impossible – I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to contain a wildfire of this size, and yet each day, they are able to draw more black lines on the map, and get more control over the huge beast. They are dealing with constantly changing wind and humidity conditions, and the fire creates its own “weather” so to speak, so winds can come out of nowhere, totally unexpected. They are dealing with the unknown constantly and putting themselves in harm’s way, always needing to know an escape route in case things get bad. They are dealing with exploding trees shooting fire “pinecone grenades” miles in the air, starting fires who knows where. They are dealing with rocky slopes that people can barely climb up, and climb they do, with hundreds of pounds of gear, hoses, tools, backpacks, etc. They are dealing graciously and kindly with a very nervous public, sometimes irrate individuals who take their fear out on the firefighters, and sometimes even attack them (pot farmers attacked a dozer driver). Sometimes they even lose their lives fighting to save ours, and our homes (God Bless you Robert Reagan and family). They are working grueling 12-hour shifts, sleeping on the ground in most places (in tents), and breathing in TONS of smoke – which they are well aware could cause them health problems in the future. They are doing all this because they are our HEROES and I honor them, as I believe we all should.
    God Bless you and all the craziness you are living through, God Bless Big Sur today and all the inhabitants, large and small, and God Bless the firefighters, may they stay safe, uninjured and out of harm’s way as they risk their lives to save ours.

  11. pretty sure they post each road with a few CHP’s… as they did in Palo….?

  12. Sorry if that sounded like a rant. I’ve lived here for almost 30 years and truly appreciate the hard work and risks the firefighters take all day to try and save our lives and property. The Tassajarra fire burned half my property just stopping at my renters house. All would have been lost if not for the local fire guys plus the bombers.

  13. July 30th I was to stay on property at Nason Road thru Monday (actual warning day). Dozers were in the River bed, chainsaws could be heard around Princess Camp, Cal Fire trucks going past property. Helicopters were in the air. Didn’t feel safe to me. Visability was good, air was smoky. Monday evacuation day…fire trucks used our driveway and vineyard driveways. Full entourage at Cachagua Community Park. They came, they did their job. Thank you!

  14. So I’m hearing from some folks who have stayed behind that there is no police presence letting tourists know businesses are closed in big sur. They are themselves, turning people away as they are trying to find the beach and have lunch. Wtf. Might they post on one of those flashing signs that businesses are closed in big sur, if they aren’t closing the road??

  15. Is it possible that the “mandatory evacuation” issued was a mistake? A lack of communication between the PTBs? Or perhaps a 911 reverse call that went out too soon…perhaps based on faulty info? Do I dare even bring this up? Well…yes…

    But, it makes no sense NOW that they haven’t changed things. There is something very amiss here. I feel for all the folks dealing with this INSANITY.

  16. You have a way of encapsulating a situation that no one else does, and I agree with your assessments consistently. Right, let loose a bunch of clueless strangers during a mandatory evacuation. Come on! Maybe there will be VIPs this evening to try and reach. Thank you for everything

  17. Thank you, Patricia. Yes, there will be all sorts of VIPs present and I will make my views known, as cogently and unemotionally as I can.

  18. 8/7/16, 3pm


    The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office has REDUCED and ORDER to a WARNING for the following areas:

    – WARNING: The area West of HWY 1 at Andrew Molera State Park from Coast Road to Graves Canyon is under a warning.

    The following areas will remain under an ORDER:
    – ORDER: For the residents East of Hwy1 starting at Coast Rd to Graves Canyon.

  19. anyone who wants to call CHP (most of their offices are closed during the weekend)(??!!??!!) (!?) i found this number 831-796-2160 where the nice dispatcher will take your complaints and concerns and pass them on to the person in charge (?!) keep it succinct so more can call in, the more the merrier, and make sure to say that they need CHP officer or officers in the area where the tourists are stopping …to keep them moving…

    knowing how these folks think, they probably thought they needed to keep the corridor from southern california up to northern california open LOL totally forgetting what they should know about typical visitor cluelessness that can lead to these outa the car excursions… everything needs to be spelled out to the CHP and as i said… succinctly… so the message gets relayed multi multi times.

    i myself did say something about how bad it looks, makes CHP and california look really stupid to the rest of the country.

    : )

    hand in there

  20. okay just called the sheriff’s dept and got some guy who said they were “trying” and i told him that was the problem …the trying… it needs to be ‘doing’ and i told him to get their uniforms and badges and guns and shiney buttons out there on the road because that is the only thing that is going to stop these stupid tourists… that they are not paying any attention to civilians. phone number on that notice at top of this page.

  21. Mark, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss in the Tassajara Fire. That must have been so traumatic and frightening. Surely this experience is making many relive the horrors of the recent past….
    This is the first huge wildfire that I’ve ever been this close to – I grew up here but was away during the last huge fires – so I’ve never been down this “road” before, and it is a shocking, overwhelming and heartbreaking experience on so many levels. I hope you are okay now. The fire got within 2 miles/2 ridges of my house, and I couldn’t sleep for 2 weeks watching it creep towards us. There is a containment line between us and the fire now, but with the way this fire “doesn’t know how to follow rules” I still don’t feel safe, to be honest.
    My heart goes out to you and all who are suffering, and feel anxious and frustrated with the situation. This is a wonderful place for us to share our feelings – and reach out to each other. Sending a huge HUG to all who are suffering – and God bless. You can just bet that anyone you talk to anywhere just needs gobs of love right now, especially our brave men and women out there on the fire lines 🙂

  22. I live west of the 1 on Rancho Rico and decided to evacuate and get some work up in the Bay since I thought we were under orders. I see that has shifted to a warning now that I am in Monterey.

    When I drove by Bixby Bridge, cars were parked on the shoulder south of the bridge blocking the roadway and traffic was stopped. Just as I was about to get indignant, a policecar came through with a loudspeaker announcing that anyone blocking the road would be towed. I also saw one other polic car/SUV on my drive north. So they are out there.

  23. Thanks Kate. Just trying to make sense of it all…just like y’all. Thanks, and I hope you’re having some time to yourself today.

  24. Wow, I have fought Fire in this area and watched as my best friend died saving all your houses in Big Sur. Everyone needs to take a step back and realize it is no small task managing a Fire this size. Weather conditions change and evacuation orders change in a heart beat and the fire managers main goal is to try and keep everyone safe…Yes, you might be asked to leave your houses and you might just be asked to be ready and god forsaken we have to tell you to leave once then let you come home and conditions change and we are forced to tell you to leave imidiatley again. This is the world we live in as wildland firefighters. We do are best, we bend over backwards and we don’t ever ask for a pat on the back. People complaining need a reality check.
    Actually the easiest thing for us on the ground and when we are in the air would be to just have the whole area under a mandatory evacuation. I have lost count of the amount of people I have risked my life keeping safe because they thought they had been through this before and stayed home when we told you to evacuate.
    Sorry for the rant, but after watching my best friend die saving these houses once, I’m a little sensitive to the arm chair quarterbacks.

  25. My husband called me approximately 40 minutes ago from the area of September Ranch. He was looking at a very large plume of smoke from the white rock gun club area. While I could not see it from our mid valley home, I did hear a helicopter. This was the first helicopter I heard all day and i’ve had my windows open most of the day because the air was actually clear. Might anyone have some insight on this?
    Stay safe!

  26. Just looked up in dictionary: pimp-out, pimpdom. pimpship … get the drift? BigSur is succumbing to all of these … mostly by and for the Big Buck. It started many years ago with fancy places and the old timer places trying to become like them. BS Station helped make it all very ‘Public’. Seems like a humanity trend globally. Holding on to being sad so as to keep the outrage in check.

  27. Big Sur is a national park that is shared with the public…there is only 1% of this public that breaks rules and causes fires…the 99% deserve to share this public beautiful land…there isnt that many fancy places in Big Sur, if someone has money to spend in them, thats their decision..Big Sur isnt pimped..native americans were the original owners, so anyone else doesnt have that much of a right to complain anyway…imagine their inner outrage, be thankful for the good thats left…

  28. It seems the problem may be that while brave and tenacious firefighters, crew, helicopter pilots, and others on the firefighting side have been called in from all over and been magnificent, law enforcement staffing has remained close to regular and thus overwhelmed. While I appreciate that they may try to avoid closing roads like hwy 1 that people on this blog have also reported using during this, I have to agree that it makes no sense to evacuate everything along it but not close the road to tourists. Figure out a place where folks who are oblivious can detour inland both on the north and south sides, and close it! The word will get out quickly as trips become longer than the quick look and photo op they were out to get.

  29. What worries me now is the fire line running behind the ridge above Hopkins Ridge. That fire seems to be running south-east just below the north side of that ridge but seems to be contained by fire breaks at the ridge line(?) as it doesn’t quite make it over to our side of the ridge, just keeps skimming south-eastward, probably helped by the presently gusty winds out of the NW…

  30. That is worrisome, Jeff… I’ve thought for some time that the USFS was going to let it run – south. I am a tad overwhelmed tonight. Back on it tomorrow, I hope.

  31. Dear Over It, My words are weak in trying to describe the sorrow I feel for you losing your best friend while protecting homes and lives in Big Sur before – and also the gratitude I feel for your courage, selflessness, intelligence and heroism in choosing to be a firefighter, and for fighting so hard for us. I’m sure it’s frustrating to see people complaining about minor things when you know this is a war, and people lose lives in war, like your brave friend did. I’m so sorry for your loss. Lately I’m finding that I’m trying to not take any behaviors or words people say to heart – I’ve been noticing that people express their fear, sadness, anger, confusion and lack of control over really scary stuff in a lot of ways. I’ve been noticing a lot of road rage lately – people driving like bonkers – I’ve noticed drunk people in public, I’ve noticed people just stopping their cars IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BUSY ROAD to talk to someone, I’ve seen people walking around so tense it looks like they could explode. I’m sure any comments you read here that “touch a nerve” are really just people feeling pretty nervous and they don’t know how to express it. I’ve been helping around a lot the last couple weeks, and EVERYONE I talk to volunteers how deeply grateful they are for the courage and dedication of the fearless firefighters. Please don’t take us – and our lack of knowledge or perspective – personally. Please feel loved and appreciated. You are. God bless you, and God bless your brave friend, rest in peace.

  32. Just heard 3-4 fire engines (Sunday night August 7, 9:45 – 10:15 pm) haul down CV Road past the village – with sirens blaring. Hope folks and critters are okay. If anyone knows what this is, I’d appreciate knowing. Worrisome.

  33. Thanks for that 10:57 pm update, MT (as well as for your wondrous words just above it).

  34. from what i gather listening to radio traffic on firescan, the sirens and engines on cv road at about 21:50 were responding to a structure fire on upper circle in cv.

  35. fire engines going up CV Rd at 9:50pm were responding to a house fire on upper circle road.

  36. The fire engines heard on CV road earlier were responding to a house fire in Robles del Rio (CV Village area). The fire was contained but the house was destroyed. Thankfully, I understand, the residents are of the house were (are) safe.

  37. Dear MT. Just woke up out of a dream where I lost everything material thing … taking some pause to sit with the feeling of that … relating it to those who feel they have and/or have lost everything in this fire, including a loved one.

    Checked in on this great and informative site and found your 10:57 pm post. Looking out my north window over CV toward the north and I see no fire. My view of the West side of the Valley is obstructed, but no glow is radiating from it.

    Hope that helps some.

    Looking through the west window, I see a faint glow over the ridge, Laurel Springs Road. Skies seem clear all around on upper Tassjajara Road and like last night it is cool.

    Praying that All are safe.

  38. Kate…get the rest you need. Hopefully you can and “come back”. We need you. You’ve become the go-to for current info. Even with all the sources, you still bring it in a way we need. Sending you healing restful wrap-around energy.

  39. MT, you are a blessing, thank you <3

    I wish I could report clear blue skies from CV today, nope just thick, reddish-brown smoke. I think of the many times that I took those skies for granted. Never again.

    BigSurKate, please take good gentle care of yourself. You've been the rock for us but in order to support others you need time to rest.

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