Soberanes Fire, Day 23, 8/13/16 -Local Reports

8:30 pm – today’s burn out operation om the west side of the fire as a slide show from Kyle Evans:

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7:30 pm – Here is “find the firefighters” by Jeff Mallory


That is some steep country.

5:15 pm – from Steve Harper, edited for brevity and clarity:

To the left you can see mt Manuel and where the fire has stopped burning. You can see the Mt Manuel trail on the left and the Pine Ridge trail on the right. The very steep hand line is on the south side of the river and is running down the the back loop of the State Park campgrounds.


Anyway here is the photo. You can see the flank of Mt Manuel and the Mt Manuel trail and the road that goes up to the SP water tank, and the water tank itself. Further north are the ridges, some with visible flames. Steve Harper thinks the Gorge will be a problem, as he evidenced by asking about it at the last meeting.



00 pm – well this is a lot of fun … A fire just broke out WSW of me on the West side of Lake Naciemento. It is 100-200 acres and moving fast. This could get interesting – one to the north west of me and one to the south east. Hmmm…Moving to new post, will keep this one focused on Soberanes.

From Ken Wright at 4:18 pm – “Firing from Juan Higuera along the slope South the Gorge and beyond.” 1/2 hour later, Ken reports the back fire seems to be going perfectly. Here’s the view of it from Clear Ridge by Jen Smith:


3:45 pm – near Hopkins Ridge, by Kyle Evans


1:45 pm – Juan Higuera from Clear Ridge by Jeff Mallory:


12:30 pm – getting questions about the warned-about road closure, but I have heard nothing. One local in a burn out area was told (unknown level of authority) that if things didn’t go well with the burn out operations currently being conducted, a closure could be ordered. So far, all reports are that it is going well.

11:30 am – this is where the firing operation is going on – between Div breaks of N and O. It’s been going on for a while, per Soaring’s comment. My understanding (not a “for sure” thing by any means) is that the plan is to continue burn out operations, as weather permits down that dozer line through “N” to Div “ZZ” and further down, ahead of the main fire. This plan, of course, can change as the weather changes or the fire does.


9 am – today’s acreage is listed as 71,860 with containment at 60%. Want to know how the backburn on Coast Road is doing? Read Soaring’s eloquent and moving account in the comments section on this post. Made my day. Also reported that the backburn on the handline at Juan Higuera is going well, as well.

7 am – just a reminder, then I will be back later.


39 thoughts on “Soberanes Fire, Day 23, 8/13/16 -Local Reports

  1. On a bathroom run in the night I heard a vehicle and walked to the kitchen window to look below in the curve of the N Coast Ridge road, where tiny lights on the roof perfectly outlined the rectangle form of a slowly cruising engine. It was a 24-hour crew posted for the burn operation, patrolling the line, attuned not to the obvious attraction, the orange flames flaring clear in a canyon some distance to the east, by the south Ventana Cones, but as Matt, the captain from Lassen told me, they are trained to have eyes swiveling away from the fire, into the green – in this case, the dark of the west, for any sign that fire could have crossed the road.

    These are the experts. To all in Sur who live below the Coast Ridge Rd., please know, they are doing everything they can to keep the fire inside the line. Two days ago, when the hotshots walked with drip torches along the side of the road, lighting off the masticated swaths by the roadbed, or shot flares further, into the trees in the forest, they were followed by engines and crews on foot, shovels in hand. When the operation was at our homes they stood, backs to the fire, searching for any stray sparks floating our way. They stayed for long shifts, waiting, watching, professional and intent. Paramedics were posted nearby. Some crews walked up on the steep west side, putting out flareups in the overhanging trees, utterly focused. My heart feels such gratitude and respect for the service of all involved in fighting fire. Fire is neutral, doing its job, breathing across the way, breathing and eating fuel. The firefighters are doing their jobs, very matter of fact, creating fuel breaks. They are breathing the smoke, I haven’t seen one mask on anyone working here. Bodies and lives on the line.
    Huge thanks for the enormous effort we are witnessing.

  2. Soaring, thank you for that heartfelt, and detailed, description from the front lines. It brings tears to my eyes, and I am deeply grateful for everyone’s selfless service, as well as for this level of information.

  3. Thank you for the lovely report, Soaring!!! The sky is clear and the sun shines beautifully bright here in the Highlands — only the 2nd time in more than three weeks. I pray that all of you down coast will be blessed by the same Very Soon.

  4. Beautifully written, incredibly moving account of these brave warriors. Thank you, Soaring.

  5. Thank you, Soaring. That eases our hearts up here in Nevada County. And thank you again, Kate!

  6. Your text brought tears to my eyes Soaring…q
    From Green Ridge here, woke up last night (cannot sleep!) went outside to find a sky full of stars, first time in what seems a very long time, I could even see the Milky Way. Praying for everyone to be safe, locals and firefighters

  7. Soaring.. We all needed that… Some details from the front and uplifting news. Thank you so much and all praise to the firefighters, local and visiting, professional and volunteer!

  8. It would mean a lot to the fire fighters to read your moving words, Soaring. A most heartfelt TX you to all who contribute to bigsurkate.

  9. Thank you Soaring for so eloquently sharing your observations, respect and gratitude. A deeply touching reminder of the peril faced by all of us, being tackled with such commitment and expertise by such a vast network of individual teams.

  10. Soaring, the expressive details of your commentaries have been so uplifting! Many thanks for sharing such introspective observations of the heroic acts of the amazing firefighters! As a point of reference for your proximity are you about 1 mile or so east of Highway 1? I have been trying to pinpoint the various locations on maps from over yonder, in Carmel Valley. We endured the fire’s intense approaching threat which I was able to observe from my view of Rancho San Carlos. There is just no way to explain the feeling of profound gratitude for the protection that continues to be provided!

  11. Was very moved by the report and writings of “Soaring”. It was eloquently put in a time of despair for some and upmost gratitude for others. Thank you for saving my son’s home in the Palo Colorado canyon, fire fighters and for the reports daily from bigsurkate !!!!!,

  12. Soaring, this was an extraordinary visual. It makes me feel safe up here in Carmel Valley and a little guilty that I complain of the air quality with what you, down near the fire line, are facing. I could never say enough about the firefighters.

  13. Any word on the hwy 1 closure at-any-time warning? Sobranes fire phone folks this morning said the warning is still in effect and they don’t have info where the closures might be but said they could be quite wide apart (on hwy 1).

  14. It’s very comforting and reassuring to know that Soaring with such incredible fire knowledge and knowledge of the local terrain is up there observing and sharing such accurate information. Be safe and thank you so much and thank you Kate you’re both awesome !!

  15. Thank you for sharing that description, Soaring. I am in awe of how hard fire fighters work to protect the communities and keep the fire contained.

    My guess about Highway 1 is that they will keep it open unless there is an emergency with the fire, meaning that the fire reaches the valley community and highway itself. Then they will close the road to fight the fire, and reopen it as soon as feasible. My experience with CA is that they do everything possible to keep roads open. Emergency crews are trained to do their work with minimum disturbance to those around so business can continue as usual.

    This is unusual for me, coming from the Midwest, where even interstates are routinely closed due to flood/snow/ice/wind/tornado and that’s just an expected part of life. Here in CA, with such a large population, so many tourists, and so much money on the line, it’s a matter of practicality to balance all the competing interests.

  16. I was moved to tears. These men and women on the fire line deserve the respect you showered upon them with your beautiful words. I too could picture the scene with your eloquent words. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Any clear information of plan of how the plan to bring the fireline through the Big Sur River from the Mt Manuel (north side of the river) to the south and tie in the backfires along the North Coast Ridge Road? I have seen conflicting maps and am watching fire burn in area where no map shows it burning. It is great to hear that things are going well on the Coast Ridge Rd (thank you Soaring) but I have yet to see how they plan to tie the two together. Without this link the fire could wrap and be below lines to the south and perhaps the north depending on where they are planning to tie the two sections together.

  18. Thank you Soaring for the wonderful post , everyday I wake up with so much gratitude in my heart for all working on this fire. My wonderful mother who left our material world this year always said, “gratitude is riches complaint is poverty.” This was the second time in my life I have had to pack a bag and put photo albums in the car, really puts all the daily minutiae into perspective doesn’t it..

  19. Soaring, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with this fire, and the people who are fighting it, especially the Lassen crew! It really warms my heart to know that the locals appreciate the work my son’s crew and all the others are doing. Also, thank you Kate for sharing on Wildland Fire.

  20. Although small in comparison with what you’re dealing with, I’d like to Continue the praise for Cal Fire, I live a few miles from a fire we had here in the hills west of Morgan Hill yesterday. At 4:15 it was roaring and I thought the fire would grow quickly and be difficult to contain. Then two helicopters and several fixed wing aircraft arrived and by 5:00 the fire was virtually out. Last night I could see the lights of the ground crews putting out the last of the smoldering spots.

    A big thanks to Cal Fire, the skilled pilots and the crews that spent the night on the hill.

    Good luck to everyone in Big Sur and hope all stay safe.

  21. Of CONCERN is that if the burnout continues south on the Coast Ridge Road without immediate need to meet the fire, the burnout itself may triangulate with Tassajara Road and bring unnecessary fire there over time. I really hope, since this is NOT an act-of-god-fire, but man-made, that it will be stopped to the best of the ‘much appreciated fire crew’s’ ability, thereby limiting the burn area rather than making the most of it.

  22. Soaring thank you for the detailed commentary so profound. Juan would be so proud of you. Stay safe and good luck to my Big Sur

  23. Even though it is a miserable 102 degrees here in So Oregon today, I am grateful to be inhaling clean air. Thank you, Soaring for your witnessing account and beautiful honoring of the crews. I’ve decided that the best thing I can do from my location is to visualize and feel those in the smoke, heat, and grime— and breathe clean air for them, supercharged with a knowing that what they (and all of you) are doing is working, valued, and appreciated.

    May the fire finally face itself immediately (as per Regine’s and Steven’s keen observations) and come to an end without getting the opportunity to take on the other areas in question. May you all not have to do this for much longer. xoxo

  24. To Steven HARPER: I have a phone call out to you to explore if we are talking about the same concern: the coast ridge road backfiring creating a new front, ready to run northeast and/or southeast when weather encourages it. Steve, knowing very well you are the more diplomatic and soft spoken one ( like a harp, not a trombone like me), could you please direct our concern to CalFire or those who are managing the fire? Thanks.

  25. Chimney Fire is in SLO area, but not too far from Monterey Co line and on the west side, between Lake Naciemento and the Santa Lucias.


  26. Thank you everyone for your kindness, you were all beyond kind, I’m at a loss for words at the responses to my last post. Thank you Kate, for creating this space for us to share as a community, near and far, and especially to Rose, for invoking the memory of one of my best bosses, Juan Lopez. Juan would radio me at the lookout just to say “Good job.” You who commented today gave me that.

    I need to issue a correction, in the dark I had my directions off, that distant flame to the east last night was toward Double Cones, not South Ventana Cone, but that’s pretty obvious on the maps. The water bucket helicopter going overhead up here for the last hour is for a column that came up inside the burn, east side of the line. Crews are on the road, they’ll be here all night. I said, how do you do 24 hours without sleep? The answer is they get pretty good at sleeping standing up!

  27. Does anyone know what’s happening on the north end of Hennickson’s Ridge? The latest fire map shows it to be burning. Is this a controlled burn?

  28. William, I have been focused on the West side of the fire, so not sure re Hennickson’s Ridge. Maybe if Lucas sees this he can answer. He is on that side of the fire.

  29. Soaring, you have a wonderful ability to evoke pictures with your words. I remember a story you shared many years ago at Bob’s, telling us of the eerie quiet as you awoke during a shift change and faced only the fire. As you face fire again and again after that – thank you for evoking the strength and courage of all of you fighting this fire and trying to protect your community.

  30. The tiny bit of fire on the east side of Los Padres was a controlled burn Thursday evening, went from the dam itself about 1/3 way up the east side of the lake. I watched them from the ridge mop it up with a helo and CDC crews Friday morning. Once the smoke cleared out of the dam 5 more Helos showed up and started dipping, the Hueys stayed local dumping on Elephant & Uncle Sam hot spots, the heavys went towards big sur. At one point there were 3 dipping and 2 on approach, amazing coordination in that narrow area. On my way back up Hennicksens Friday there was very little presence or activity either human or fire, but all looks ready, hose line the whole way with temp tanks full. The Santa Barbara County crews were checking up on the equipment at the J-K mark.

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