Soberanes Fire, Day 35, 8/25/16

1 pm –

Pfeiffer Beach opened Monday, August 22, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park will open Thursday, August 25.

Here’s the rundown of State Park closures / expected reopenings:

• The West side of Garrapata has been open during the fire and remains open. East of the highway the park will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

• Point Sur Light Station SHP is scheduled to reopen this weekend with normal hours.

• Andrew Molera SP will remain in use as a Fire Camp for the foreseeable future.

• Pfeiffer Big Sur SP will remain closed at least through Sept 5th, perhaps longer because the fire has made the hillsides unstable. The Fire Camp is currently moving out, and Parks has begun necessary work to reopen. We have not set a date yet, and expect the work to take at least 2 to 3 weeks.
• Buzzards Roost trail opens Thursday, August 25.

• Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is partially reopening Thursday the 25th, which will include the parking lot and trails west of Highway 1. The eastern trails will remain closed.
Partington Cove trail, located west of Highway 1, will also re-open.
From Rene Robles at Big Sur Lodge
The lodge is not open yet but I am opening only for reservations tomorrow with limited operations until further notice as Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is closed and also the trails surrounding Big Sur Lodge.

Stan Russell

9:30 am –


8:00 am –

Soberanes Fire


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

Current Size 90,062 (52,868 CA-LPF, 37,194 CAL FIRE,) Containment: 60% Cause: Illegal campfire
Injuries: 1 fatality, 4 injuries Structures Destroyed: 57 homes, 11 outbuildings Structures Threatened: 410
Current Resources: Crews: 16 Engines: 44 Helicopters: 12 Dozers: 18 Water Tenders: 42
Total Personnel: 1,494

Incident Command: Alaska Interagency Incident Command Team #1, Kurth, is preparing to take command of the incident from California Interagency Incident Command Team #3, von Tillow commanding.

Fire Restrictions: Forest Order 05-07-16-15 Fire Use Restrictions – Level IV Fire Restrictions. This Order is effective from August 23, 2016, through the end of the official 2016 fire season.

Community Meeting: A community meeting will be held at the Cachagua General Store, located at 18840 Cachagua Road, Carmel Valley, CA tonight, Thursday, August 25, 2016, at 6:00 P.M.

Current Situation: Fire activity in the interior increased yesterday due to higher temperatures and lower humidity producing visible smoke in the area. Fire movement around the perimeter continues to be slow with no threats to fire lines. Areas around and below Miller Mountain, Logwood ridge and Mount Olmstead continue to have fire movement. Crews continue to look for opportunities to construct direct fire line and preparing for future tactical firing operations. Structure protection continues to be evaluated and improved.

Shifting winds are expected today from the southwest bringing cooler, more humid air to the area. This will provide an opportunity for firefighters to continue constructing fire line and preparing structure defense. Aircraft will continue dropping water and fire retardant to reinforce containment lines. Crews will continue fire line repair work along northern Carmel zone.

Wilderness Tactics: To reduce the impacts associated with fire suppression activities in wilderness areas, fire managers and firefighting crews continue using Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics as much as possible. The steep, 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. The inaccessibility into the Ventana Wilderness along much of the fire’s east side continually requires patience, and slow and steady hard work from the crews, as they look for options to construct direct line.

The fire was caused by an illegal, unattended campfire on the Soberanes Canyon trail in the Garrapata State Park. Anyone with information is asked to call the CAL FIRE Tip Line at: (800) 468-4408. Fire managers want to remind the public that human caused fires are preventable. Please be aware of current fire restrictions and be careful with anything that could spark a fire.

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. For a complete list of closures please visit: . The following sites are open: Pfeiffer Beach Day Use, Mill Creek Day Use, Willow Creek Day Use, Sand Dollar Day Use, Kirk Creek Campground, Nacimiento Campground, Ponderosa Campground and Plaskett Creek Campground.

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 and Warnings: An evacuation ORDER remains in effect for Coast Ridge Rd. from mile marker 1.5 to Marble Peak at the end of the road. 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 to the fire victims have been provided by the Coast Property Owners Association (CPOA) and the Community Foundation for Monterey County. Donations can be made to the CPOA at Coast Property Owners Association, PO Box 59, Big Sur, CA 93920 or the Community Foundation for Monterey County, 2354 Garden Road, Monterey, CA 93940 (831)375-9712.

The Red Cross prepares for, responds to, and helps 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. For any unmet disaster related needs, please call their 24 hour hotline at 1.866.272.2237.

Additional Cooperating and Assisting Organizations: California State Parks and Recreation, California Highway Patrol California Office of Emergency Services , California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, California National Guard, Big Sur Land Trust, California Department of Transportation, California National Guard, California Fish & Wildlife, Coast Property Owners Association (CPOA), Community Foundation for Monterey County, Bureau of Land Management, American Red Cross, County of Monterey, Pacific Gas and Electric, 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.


This is this morning’s IR Topo Map:


And here is the link to: IR Topo Map in PDF

Here is the IR Ortho Map:


And here is the link to: IR Ortho Map in PDF

For those of you missing the weather and fire prediction maps, like I was, I found them today and will include them each time I find them. The are included within a much larger document which can be found Here


And finally, here is the South Ops Map:


Here is the link to the So Ops Map in PDF


10 thoughts on “Soberanes Fire, Day 35, 8/25/16

  1. The USFS just announced that they will not help or protect Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. The system is broken.

  2. But the USFS has never been charged with protecting private spaces, that has always fallen on Cal Fire and the local fire brigades, not the USFS.

  3. Yes, So where is CalFire’s commitment!!!!

    Zen Center is in part a commercial venture and revenue producing enterprise, just like all those in Big Sur, Highlands and Carmel Valley.

    Same for the Jamesburg area. Homes in Jamesburg are mostly primary homes rather than 2nd homes.

    Something is not in balance here.

    If interested, please read my last night’s post about yesterday’s meeting at Jamesburg School.

  4. This has been my worry from day 1. What no one understands. Who is in charge? What is the command structure. The IC. You have articulated a serious problem. Those being given command now are not charged with protecting life and property as Cal Fire. Cal Fire is being subordinated and marginalized. They were the real heroes.

    This fire will continue to burn “all” of Big Sur down to Nacimiento. This is a tragedy that the USFS will not protect Zen Center. A real tragedy. And fire is advancing from the South.

    Command is being federalized and regionalized. That is what a fire captain told me last week up on Tassajara road.

  5. I can confirm the IC has said it will not protect Tassajara. I received a call directly from Tassajara at 9:00am. Until 2008 Tassajara was always protected by a fire crew(s). In 2008, 5 semi-trained monks stopped Tassajara from burning. Past ICs left crews at Tassajara when it was much less prepared and in faster and hotter burning fires. Tassajara has history that goes well back into the 1800s. There are many 3rd and 4th generation guests that come to Tassajara. It has a rich and colorful history that is part of the Santa Lucias and the surrounding area. Yes, now it is a zen center, but it is the oldest zen monastery outside of Asia. This is now the second time IC has told Tassajara Zen Mountain Center that they will commit crews and then later reneged from their commitment. In 2008 it was done at the last minute. Now it is well ahead of the fire. Just last week the IC gave permission for Tassajara to reopen for guest season… now this. What kind of thinking is going on? There are many captains that would be willing to place crews at Tassajara… what has changed?
    I don’t believe this is actually true, but I sometimes wonder if CalFire and the USFS were so embarrassed by the press and book that 5 monks saved a large complex of buildings while they could not — could this be their payback. I doubt it, but still I wonder. I know that they did not like the 2008 press they got. It made them look bad and I know there were captains that were angry with the decision to be pulled. Makes me wonder why I pay special taxes to CalFire if they are only going to work to save wealthy peoples homes.
    I apologize for being upset and not just reporting the facts, but I take this personally as I do have friends that will stay and defend.

  6. Is there anything we can do as a community to influence the apparent decision to abandon the zen center? Tassajara zen and the community that surrounds Jamesburg are precious community members. I feel very sad about this and wonder if we can make a difference?

  7. Go the community meeting tonight at 6 pm at the Cachagua Store and make your voices heard – and may they be many,.


  8. Personally, I do not think that any of the young men and women hired by the state to protect defensible homes should have their lives put in unreasonable jeopardy. It may be that there is too much potential risk to fire fighters’ lives to place them at the zen center. I live on Partington, and I feel that our ridge is not quite safe enough for fire fighters. We need to do more road clearance and home clearance to make it safe for them to stay and help save our homes. Might this also be true of Tassajara?

  9. Heidi, did you ever go to Tassajara Hot Springs? If 5 mindful people can defend Tassajara when surrounded on all sides by fire (you can read the book recounting that successful effort of 2008) then certainly, support from firemen should not be denied.

    Of course, each fire, each fire moment is different and one does not know what is ahead, not even when defending houses in the Highlands, or Palo Colorado, or … Just consider the fact that there is a sprinkler system throughout, which mists up the canyon to 60% humidity when the surrounding wilderness may be at 10%. There is unlimited water in the creek with pumps and hoses, there is a filled swimming pool, landscaping is immaculate, free of dried vegetation, etc, etc … if there is ever a place that is fire ready, it is Tassajara. They probably are the #1 property when it comes to being prepared. They even have fire fighting trained staff! Any fireman trapped in the Forest better knows where Tassajara Center is, cause it very well may be the best place to run to …

  10. This comes directly from Tassajara. I am not giving the name of the person it came from, but can attest to it comes from the top:
    “It has been very confusing. The man who gave us the “absolutely no help” message, had seemed very supportive when at Tassajara, and also seemed very uncomfortable as he was giving us that new message. The day after that no message, 2 safety officers (or something) came to ZMC from the FS and asked if we needed anything. Yesterday they came back with the woman who helps to assign crews and they looked at our request for help to cut line. She said she will do her best to get us a crew for 2 days, which would be a big help. One “problem” it appears is that we have done so much prep and spent so much on equipment that they think we don’t need anything. Maybe this is true compared to others. My feeling is that the main thing that would be helpful to us is to have even one or two more people who have actually fought fire there when the fire comes. We have great crew, but very inexperienced.

    These are just my thoughts and should not be taken as true. We are trying to decide on our strategy and I or someone will include you as we know. Thank you so much for your support.”

    Tassajara is getting a very different message than what is given in public meetings, like what was said at the Cachagua meeting

    In the meantime you can call: 831-204-0446 or email to express your concern that Tassajara is not being given support for even clearance protection, which is clearly part of Cal Fire stated mission.

    Cal Fire’s primary mission is: “The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection serves and safeguards the people and protects the property and resources of California.

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