Soberanes Fire, Day 30, 8/20/16 – Local Reports

3:30 pm – the Chimney Fire has blown up and is threatening the Castle on the West, and the Southern Boundary of FHL on the East. It is spotting up to  a mile or more away. All of my energies are directed there right now, while I have my head on a swivel, but the really dark stuff is SE of me. For info, go to the Chimney Fire post, below this one

8:45 am – an interesting press release from the USFS this am, with more location specific information. I hope this is what we will get each morning.

Soberanes Fire
Los Padres National Forest Service
August 20, 2016
Fire Information Phone (831)204-0446
Media Line: (831)484-9647

Incident: The Soberanes Fire was started by an Illegal campfire on the morning of July 22, 2016, in the Garrapta State Park. The fire is burning in areas of previous large fires including the Basin Complex in 2008 and the Marble-Cone Fire in 1977.
Location: Los Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness, Monterey County, CA
Agency Jurisdiction: CAL FIRE San Benito-Monterey Unit/Los Padres National Forest
Additional Cooperating and Assisting Organizations: CA State Parks and Recreation, CHP, CAL-OES, CDCR, CA National Guard, Big Sur Land Trust, CAL-TRANS, CCC, CA Fish & Wildlife, Coast Property Owners Association (CPOA), Community Foundation for Monterey County, BLM, American Red Cross, the County of Monterey, PG&E, Carmel Highlands F.P.D., Monterey County Regional Fire Protection District, Mid Coast Volunteer Fire Brigade, Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade and the Cachagua Fire Protection District.

Current Size: 83,830 acres (46,636 CA-LPF, 37,194 CAL FIRE,) Containment: 60% Cause: Illegal campfire
Injuries: 1 fatality, 3 injuries Structures Destroyed: 57 homes, 11 outbuildings Structures Threatened: 410
Current Resources: Crews: 48 Engines: 65 Helicopters: 13 Dozers: 32 Water Tenders: 50
Total Personnel: 2500

The Soberanes Fire remains in unified command with CAL FIRE San Benito-Monterey Unit and the USDA Forest Service.

Current Situation: The Soberanes Fire has increased 2,434 acres, with most growth occurring between Double Cone and Uncle Sam Mountain. Firefighters continue their efforts building and improving existing control lines spanning from the Los Padres Reservoir to Chews Ridge. Due to inaccessibility along most of the fire’s east side, some crews have been temporarily spiked (camping near the fire front) out, scouting for options for direct line to restrict fire spread where possible.

East of Big Sur, the fire has burned toward Logwood Ridge where the fire continues to be the most active, though growth remains minimal in this area. Gusty afternoon north to northwest winds along with poor overnight humidity recovery, keeps the fire dynamic in the Sur Zone. Crews are working around the clock operations in this zone. Burning operations are only utilized during the day shift and when conditions are favorable. Aviation resources are assisting with keeping the fire in check.
There has been no active fire in the north for several days though interior heat still remains. Crews continue suppression repair work. Patriot Camp in Greenfield has been demobilized as of Friday, August 19.

Wilderness Tactics: To reduce the impacts associated with fire suppression activities in wilderness areas, crews continue using MIST (Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics) as much as possible. The steep and rugged terrain of the Ventana Wilderness is inherently treacherous to firefighters. Most direct fireline is being constructed near the perimeter in areas that have been pretreated and supported by aircraft.

Anyone with information regarding the cause of the Soberanes Fire is asked to call the CAL FIRE Tip Line at: (800) 468-4408.

US Forest Service Road and Trail Closures: A forest closure order has been implemented to close the trails and roads within the Los Padres National Forest, Monterey Ranger District pursuant to USC 551 and 36 CFR 261.50(a). The order prohibits going into or being upon National Forest System lands within the Soberanes Fire area. The Arroyo Seco Campground and Day Use Area is closed. For a complete list of closures please visit:

California State Park Closures: All California State Parks from Garrapata State Park through Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are closed until further notice; this includes Point Sur State Historic Park (Lighthouse), Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground and Day Use.

Evacuation Orders: An evacuation ORDER remains in effect for Coast Ridge Rd. from mile marker 1.5 to Marble Peak at the end of the road.

Evacuation Warnings: Evacuation WARNINGS remain in effect for the east side of HWY 1 from Andrew Molera Park to Coast Ridge Rd at the Ventana Inn. This area includes the Ventana Inn and Coast Ridge Rd to mile marker 1.5. A WARNING remains for Tassajara Road from Carmel Valley Road to the Tassajara Hot Springs Zen Center. This area includes all roads that lead from the above described roads.

Donations: Local relief efforts have been provided by the Coast Property Owners Association (CPOA) and the Community Foundation for Monterey County have provided to the fire victims of the Sobranes
Fire. Donations can be made to the CPOA at Coast Property Owners Association, PO Box 59, Big Sur, CA 93920 and the Community Foundation for Monterey County 2354 Garden Road, Monterey, CA 93940 (831)375-9712.

The American Red Cross is very grateful for the offers of assistance, but at this time we are not able to accept in-kind donations such as food and clothing. If people have questions about in-kind donations related to the Soberanes Fire, they should contact, which is a local web site that matches people who have supplies and other in-kind donations with people who have those same needs. To list an item that could be donated or to list a need, individuals are asked to submit that information on the organization’s web The organization’s phone number is 831-649-3050. People can help those affected by disasters by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. These donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. To donate, people can visit, call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767), or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The American Red Cross Resource Center is open 10 am to 3 pm at 8th Ave. at Dolores St. SE, Carmel (831) 626-5256 thru Fri., August 19th. For any unmet disaster related needs please call our 24 hour hotline at 1.866.272.2237.

(In future postings of this media release,  I will be removing donations info to keep the post a bit shorter.)

This electronic message contains information generated by the USDA solely for the intended recipients. Any unauthorized interception of this message or the use or disclosure of the information it contains may violate the law and subject the violator to civil or criminal penalties. If you believe you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and delete the email immediately.

7:00 am – Today, more firing out operations behind Partington Ridge can be expected. It is anticipated that this may be the last such needed in this area,  as the fire makes its way south, away from populated areas. I am expecting a report later on today from a local who will be going to have a look at the operations to see how things are progressing.

As this fire enters its second month, it is burning away from the occupied areas and into the wilderness areas. While daily … And throughout the day … reporting has been helpful to all of us to find out what was going on with the fire with the wonderful first hand accounts of those who had eyes and cameras on it; as well as the maps and links that Lucas Ryan provided all of us for almost 3 weeks now; as the fire winds down, so does the need for the constant reporting. I will probably start a new format tomorrow, of a single post for several days, as I have been doing for the Chimney Fire. I will include the links to the maps, and perhaps the IR map, if available. If warranted, Lucas and I are ready to come back in with full reporting, but I don’t anticipate that being necessary.

My personal gratitude goes out to all the firefighters and support personnel who took this community into its collective heart, and protected us so well. We are still here for you, and will be until you go on to your next assignment or home. Kathleen Lee, of Dave Potter’s Office has gone so far above and beyond any duty she has felt to help communications between the Command Structure and the Local Communityk, it is hard to find the words which express that thankfulness. We are so thankful for her sweet caring. To all of you in this community who shared stories, photos, help, strength, and support; we are like no other. We are blessed to be here, and because of the hardships, we are stronger and closer to one another – not just Big Sur, but Cachagua as well. And finally, to Lucas, who came in on Day 8 of the fire to help me in the background and then only 2 days later, jumping in to create the maps post for me by obtaining (and making them look good) the maps that were essential to understanding the progress of the fire. Your assistance was invaluable to me. Thank you.

The fire is not over, nor is my coverage of it, but the need for the constant coverage has lessened, and we will all start to go back to whatever routine or lives we can rebuild from the venture we have endured. It has my honor and privilege to be a part of such a wonderful collaboration of efforts – the dream I had for this blog when I started – in the blessings of this unique, loving, and strong community.

And to top it off:




46 thoughts on “Soberanes Fire, Day 30, 8/20/16 – Local Reports

  1. Kate…I am the sister of my brother’s house on long ridge… I, along with he and his wife, have been following your blog the entire month, day and night… your reporting has been a blessing when nothing else was available especially in the beginning of this horrific event… I , we, cannot thank YOU AND YOUR TRIBE enough !!! everyone has been such dedicated communicators and reporters then and now and still to come….and then there are the tireless heroes who saved my brother’s house and those that they could ! thank you all so much from the very bottom of our hearts…and now we all dig in and do the repairs AND help those who have lost everything ! I wear their sadness and loss and think of them daily…many blessings to all …THANK YOU SO MUCH TO ALL THE FIREFIGHTERS AND THEIR TRIBE !!!! MANY BLESSINGS….:) Laurie Anderson…

  2. Thank you, Kate, for the tireless generosity, love and wisdom you share with us and the reminder and example that community still matters. Wishing you some restful and restorative down time. Peace and gratitude.

  3. Thank you dear Kate for everything. Here in Cachagua, we were introduced to your caring and so important website, and it has seen us through scary times.

    But I hope you will be available in the near future because the fire is not just burning to the south, but also toward Pine Valley and possibly from there to Chew’s ridge, which meets Tassajara road. People do live there, and Tassajara Road is the only corridor of escape for those who do, including but not limited to the Zen monastery. Xasauan Today has a map of the progression posted now. Let us stand with the community of Tassajara road during this critical period.

    thank you again, Page

  4. Thank you so much, Kate. The greater community is indebted to you and your helpers along with the phenomenal firefighting heroes who came to fight to save our area’s communities. I am simply amazed by your collective efforts. I posted on my Facebook page a long time ago–when I found a photo of you–that you are one who should be honored for what you do and have done.

  5. Page, yes, I will be available, and I will be watching. I’ve been worried about that area, but I’ve seen the photos of what the Nason’s have done to Chew’s Ridge, and it looks well prepared. The Zen Center, too, is confident with their preparations, AND they have been promised Cal Fire assistance this time!! YAY!


  6. Clarification: when I wrote my ‘echo’ , it was in reference to the posts by Jeff and the one above his, which are the only two visible when I wrote to express my Gratitude. Now I also see the 3rd comment, requesting ongoing vigilance, and I do understand that as well. Just wanted to convey here for now, my deep appreciation, and echo of Jeff’s words when he wrote, “tireless generosity, love and wisdom you share with us and the reminder and example that community still matters. Wishing you some restful and restorative down time. Peace and gratitude.” Many blessings to all.

  7. Thank you Kate,
    Your comments are helpful. We have many friends up on the mountains between Jamesburg and Tassajara Zen Center.
    We are one community, spread over the Ventana wilderness and Big Sur. I am in awe of everyone’s ability to grow together in this way, and so much of it has been because of you.
    Gratitude, Page

  8. Dear, Dear, Kate — it is difficult to capture words that adequately describe just how much your blog has meant to me throughout this difficult journey. I suspect that many of us consider you a bit of a Saint. I still look forward to checking in daily. In the meantime, I hope that you find peace and rest.
    Thank you so much for sharing the above moving letter from Dominic Povito — it still has my eyes tearing. As does being reminded how very sensitive and loving our community is. Endless Blessings to You, and to All of our Valiant Fire Fighters and Support Teams.

  9. Amen. GRATEFUL to Kate & ALL. DITTO to all the previous comments! THANK YOU! BLESSINGS ALL! From Alana ‘s Mom, Gramma to Wylder & ASHER (Big Sur birth 6 weeks)

  10. Ditto, it was so wonderful to read Dominic’s heartfelt note. Although I don’t know you personally Kate, I feel like we are old friends, checking in multiple times a day in a monologue sort of way. You may not know this, but all throughout Carmel, CV and Monterey, I heard your name and blog mentioned copiously. You and your compatriots have been a beacon and source of authentic information for thousands of people. Rest up and take care of yourself, many people are sending you their blessings and gratitude.

  11. What we have experienced with Big Sur Kate’s blog is a remarkable piece of reporting over the course of this incident. The messages were forceful when needed, detailed, encouraging, humor at times, humble and the only reliable guideline for those of us desperately in need of information. Her writing is better quality than that of the national newspaper chains. Having said that, they couldn’t afford to pay for that kind of talent anyway. The spirit of the Big Sur and Cachaugua / communities was opened to public prevue in such a thoughtful, heartfelt accounting. A tip of the hat to the grand lady of the south coast.

  12. Thank you Kate for your tireless efforts to keep the community informed. The maps you have provided have kept my family, friends and so many others informed about the fires activity and spread. A couple weeks ago when my father and a friend went in to Pine Valley to access the risk to the cabin and try to do what they could to protect it your blog helped me to communicate the current situation to them so that they could remain safe from thick smoke. Since you began reporting on the Soberanes Fire your blog has become a key point in my morning routine, usually only prefaced by a cup of coffee. My heart has been with the Big Sur and Carmel Valley communities on this emotional roller coaster ride. Is there some where I could get the maps you have been providing daily? As the fire burns up toward Hiding Canyon towards Pine Valley I would like to stay as informed as possible.

    Thank you for your time and dedication. I am so thankful that the Big Sur community is safe and for the wonderful firefighters who have put up an amazing effort in battling this blaze.

    Best wishes to you and Big Sur,
    Crystal English

  13. Big Sur Kate, you rock and our community is indebted to you for being our rock! I have nothing more to add that hasn’t already been so eloquently expressed by you and the ^ ^ others. Being a good neighbor is what it’s all about.

  14. Getting breezy on Tassajara Road, winds without clear direction … fire finally getting close after 1 month of sitting on pins and needles watching it creeping our way, wondering how this fire will play out for our neighborWoods.

    Mason’s property is on a relatively open flat space, so more defendable than their numbers neighbors below all the way to Jamesburg. There other neighborhoods on Laurel Springs Road to the west near Hennickson and Lambert Flat to the East, between Tassajara Road and Carmel Valley Road, all still on vac warning.

    What is that saying about a fat lady singing and then it is over? I hope a Soperaness makes her appearance soon. If not, we could all started singing … the fire will hear … sorry, getting silly now … maybe there is something in the smoke :))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

  15. Thank you so much for often being theOnly and timely source of reliable news for all this time!! Please continue to inform about the chimney fire when you can . That is one of my favorite areas ,the hills around Cambria and the country roads … Sick they may now be in danger. Take care♨️🔚‼️

  16. Thank you Kate for your updates and maps of,the Chimney fire. Down south of you in the Cambria area we are fortunate to have your information. Looks like someday the two,fires might meet. Chimney Fire right now is east of Hearst castle . They have their own fire department.

  17. While the internets are full of foolishness, this site shows how its potential is truly valuable. Thank you, Kate, for demonstrating how we can use technology truly for the benefit of many.

  18. I don’t think these two fires will connect. Too far away. That’s assuming there isn’t one started in between, as Xasauan Today points out has only NOT happened at Salmon Creek lately due to luck and the Gods. Should that happen while these two are active, then my prediction is invalid.


  19. Kate– you are a local treasure! Thank you to you and Lucas. And that letter? I’m crying!!!

  20. I would like to encourage everyone to ask at public meetings what the plan for Tassajara Zen Center is and Tassajara Rd residents that have defensible space. Tassajara Hot Springs (even before it was a zen center) as far back as is known always had a professional crew placed there until the 2008 Basin Complex Fire. All previous fires the IC commited crew(s). In 2008 the IC sent crews in to help with clearing, but they were told as the fire approached that no professional crews would be there to help. 5 monks stayed and successfully defended the place with the only the loss of a small outbuilding. The event was later published as a book: Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire. Tassajara is a more prepared than any place I know in the range (I won’t go into the details). I have been in regular phone and email contact with Tassajara, it is my understanding, that they have received no professional crews to help with clearing. They have received no commitment to send crews in as the fire approaches. When I have asked this in public meetings and then again in person, I have received two answers, 1) “It is not my call” and “we are assessing the situation.” While I know every fire is different, I believe Tassajara and many homes along or off of the Tassajara Rd are defensible and have been assessed in every fire previous to 2008 as being defensible. Many fire captains are quite willing to stay and defend, but they get pulled from higher up the chain. The monks and students at Tassajara will stay and defend with or without professional help. Perhaps public pressure will encourage the IC to make a commitment to Tassjara Zen Center an those properties that access Tassajara Rd that are safe to defend. Thanks for reading…

  21. Steve, the Tassajara Zen Center posted (on FB?) that they had a commitment to have a professional crew in there when the fire became a threat to it. I JUST read this today … Somewhere … By the Center itself. Also talked of closing the guest season for this year due to the fire, and asking people to consider donating their deposits, so I know it was from them. Might call again, or look for it.


  22. You are a Godsend, Kate. I thank the heavens every day for you. Thank you for all you do! –A back bone and web that holds us all together!

  23. Hi Kate,
    The commitment to have professional crews was given by a public information officer, which is good news, but not always accurate. In 2008 they were told by much higher up the chain there would be a crew(s)…
    Tassajara was given permission to re-open for guest season to the public. The abbots and higher ups at Tassajara decided not to re-open for the concern of the quality of experience and safety of the guests.
    My concern is not just for Tassajara, but also for those like the Nason clan and others off Tassajara Rd that have defensible space. I know that many reporters check your site for their own stories. I hope some of them pick up this story because it is loaded with history that dates back to the 1800s.
    Thanks Kate for all that you do in providing a venue for information that puts the professional information officers of the various agencies and local reports to feel at least a little embarrassed that they can’t keep up with you and your crew.

  24. You made me laugh, Steven. I have been getting inquiries about the folks in that area as their concerns are made more vocal. I concur, everyone needs to speak up at the meetings to make sure those places that are defensible are defended. We don’t need to lose any more homes.


  25. First, as someone with former connection to both the Big Sur area and to Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, I want to echo everyone’s thanks for the amazing resource your website has been providing this time around. I have been unable to find anything like the detailed updated reports you’ve been printing by searching directly on the inciweb or Cal Fire sites–they don’t seem to be making publicly available the same reports you have been posting, and what you’ve provided here is indispensable, heartening, and has no doubt been exhausting. You have given above and beyond, and provided a place for others to contribute. Many people like me have been reading your posts daily, with gratitude, invisibly attending these events from a distance. Every inch of the Big Sur/Ventana area is beloved by not only those now present but those who have been, for longer or shorter times, residents there.

    Still, I was glad to read Steve Harper’s comments and your replies here, and do want to echo the hope that you’ll continue to be posting daily if/when the fire reaches that area–today for instance was the first time I’ve seen reference made to Chew’s Ridge on the official CalFire report. Makes sense. The fire has been far from there (except for the Cachagua defense line early on), and higher priority places needed those efforts. Now, as fire season grows fiercer elsewhere and crews must be moving away from the Soberanes, it does remain a concern that the Tassajara road residences, the Nasons, and the Zen Center itself all receive protection as the uncontained edge moves closer. What happened in 2008 was a miracle of courage. No community should have had to do what the fire monks did, without assistance, and however much better the defenses are now, clearly the community does need to keep up pressure that they not again be abandoned to their own resources there. Retardant drops, water drops, professionals to set backfires… none of that happened in 2008. It MUST happen this year, when, as seems inevitable, that fire front reaches Tassajara Road and the Zen community doing their own part so fully at its end.

    If there’s some way for those of us unable to attend community meetings to add our voices–an email address, a place to send letters, someone to call–I hope you will post that here.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Big Sur Kate, all who contribute to this site, firefighters, residents, community at large.

    And–support and thoughts for those who did lose their homes early in the Soberanes.

  26. Does anyone know if there has been any effort to protect Jack English’s cabin? Obviously homes and the Zen Center come first, but it would be sad to lose this memorial of an amazing man.

  27. Hi Kate. I’ve been relying on your wonderful blog for the past few weeks as I follow the fire. Your love for the Big Sur community mirrors mine for Tassajara Zen Mt. Center. I wrote about the center’s experience in the 2008 Basin Complex in my book Fire Monks. Today, the Herald published an op-ed I wrote about why Tassajara deserves better support (if the Soberanes Fire reaches the monastery) than it received in 2008.
    Here’s the link:
    The article will appear in tomorrow’s print edition. If you feel moved to share it with your readers, I’d be grateful.
    Many thanks for all of the hard work you put into this blog. I really believe it’s as important as cutting fire line.
    Colleen Busch

  28. Kate: continued and even more than a million thanks for all you do, YOU are our definitive source for information for those in your beautiful area and around it. Thank you from the bottom of my hearts. You have won a Nobel Peace Prize as far as I am concerned.

    I share everyone’s concerns too about why things are still happening down there from human errors. I do agree that it would be much less expensive if law enforcement and others could budget more to watch over this stuff but in the meantime, it does fall on us: reporting anything we see and I mean anything !() to the authorities will make invaluable inroads.

    Capitola report: overcast, smokey smelling, eyes burning still, I am told that a lot of air filters are being sold and we continue staying inside as much as we can over here. I can only imagine what it’s like over there. God Bless you Kate!

  29. Hi Colleen,
    Thank you so much for your article and the book you wrote of the 2008 fire events at Tassajara. With the recent shift in the fire command, what is said in one meeting does not necessarily make its way back up to the IC. Your article and the public can have an impact in what they finally decide to do.
    For those of you not familiar with Collen’s book which tells a good story of what happened and belongs in the library of anyone interested in the history of the Santa Lucia Mountains, here is a link:
    With Gratitude

  30. It’s a great book I have in my library….a great story told in riveting prose accompanied by some wonderful shots the monks took.


  31. To Steven Harper:

    Thanks Steve for raising the issue.

    Where do I start to demand that we receive structure protection East of Hennickson. So far, I sent a text to Cachagua Cert group asking to read the submissions here and see what we can do NOW to have our structures protected with the same committed effort as others have received in this Soberanes Fire.

    Fire should be here soon, so no time to waste.

    I could call Coast Weekly …. NOW

  32. Regine, call Kathleen Lee of Dave Potter’s Office, she has established a great working relationship with the ICMT and can be of the most immediate assistance. Call first thing tomorrow morning, but know she is usually at the briefings at 6 am. If she is not immediately available, ask for Bryan Flores who works for her.


  33. Shit, is tomorrow Sunday? Okay, first thing Monday. I have her cell, I’ll try to text her if I can, but with the Chimney at MY back door, I may be distracted. Email me directly late in the day, if you want.


  34. Not sure if you saw the Evac warnings for Bryson Hesperia and south side of Hunter Liggett to do with the Chimney Fire.

    This must be past your bed time … Thanks once more and I will continue tomorrow.

  35. Yes, I have been following The Chimney quite closely since the blow up around 3:30 caused my sky to go almost black … It’s why I am hesitant to promise anything tomorrow, as this is close enough that I want to be paying attention, but not be worried.

    My bedtime was midnight the first three weeks, 11 the fourth and 10 (hopefully) the fifth. If this goes on much longer, I’ll be falling asleep before the sun sets!


  36. Dear Kate, i followed your blog during the Basin Fire so it was the first place I looked for information when the column of smoke from the Soneranes Fire rose behind the hills of Carmel Valley… And there you were! You’ve been giving us the information we need from the beginning and we are grateful beyond measure to you and all those who have provided local reports on your blog. We will be praying for you and all who are menaced by the Chimney and Soberanes fires. It’s our turn to say “Stay safe, keep calm, and help your neighbors ( as you always do)”. God bless!

  37. Thank you Steven and Kate for your kind words about Fire Monks. It was a story that demanded to be told, and I was lucky enough to be the teller. As much as I enjoyed the experience of researching and writing the book, I am not eager for a sequel…
    A deep bow of gratitude to all of you who care about your communities so wholeheartedly–close in but also including the wider circle of beings who live in this beautiful part of the world. It’s so encouraging to me.
    Colleen Busch

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