Soberanes Fire, Day 45, 9/4/16

7:30 pm – Good night, Day 45 – where smoke and fog meet. Glad to say goodnight. May tomorrow bring clearer, cleaner, bluer skies.


And here is the latest MODIS from John Chesnut (time stamped 2:54 pm). Far west side seems to be holding well, but South is moving quite a bit.


4:15 pm – a photo taken by Aaron McGilloway and sent to me by Iris McWilliams about 3 pm from East Carmel Valley Road past Arroyo SEco looking west.


1:30 pm – one USFS source has said: They lost the fire on a dramatic slopover. That is why the DC-10 was called in. They were panicked it would run away from all containment trails. (And I said at the time they wouldn’t divert the VLAT unless they were worried about containment.) Now as for Tassajara – They all thought it was going to go through yesterday. Good chance today because it’s less than a mile away (Official word is 2.5 miles) and satelite data shows lots of pre- heating out front of the fire. In any event, the fire is rapidly approaching the Zen Center, as we all know and expected. (Steve Harper, whose opinion I trust, takes issue with the above statements. I would rather go with Steve’s gut than with the USFS source, frankly.) Let’s pray they are prepared and get help this time. I understand air resources are committed to Tassajara.

And from the USFS air operations – what we all knew just from watching:


11 am and the USFS finally released their long-awaited update. I am only including the most pertinent part.

Soberanes Fire
Los Padres National Forest
September 4, 2016


Fire Information Phone (831)204-0446
Media Line: (831)484-9647

Incident: The Soberanes Fire is burning in the Los Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness, Monterey County, CA. The fire was started by an illegal campfire on July 22, 2016, in Garrapata State Park.
Agency Jurisdiction: CAL FIRE San Benito-Monterey Unit/Los Padres National Forest.
Incident Command: Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team, Tom Kurth Incident Commander.

Current Size: 98,420 acres (61,226 acres CA-LPF, 37,194 acres CAL FIRE)
Containment: 60% Cause: Illegal campfire Injuries: 1 fatality, 6 injuries
Structures Destroyed: 57 homes, 11 outbuildings Structures Threatened: 410
Current Resources: Crews: 16 Engines: 59 Helicopters: 15 Dozers: 3
Water Tenders: 7 Masticators: 2
Total Personnel : 1153

Current Situation: An increase in winds late in the afternoon and evening resulted a significant increase in fire activity. The overall acreage increased by approximately 2,700 acres, most of which was to the southeast. The fire moved roughly 1. 8 miles and has now passed the Marble Creek Trail and Black Cone Mountain.
Late Saturday night, satellite heat detections prompted concern for public safety and a possible evacuation for the Tassajara Zen Center. Actual fire spread was evaluated. This resulted in a decision not to issue an evacuation warning. While satellite imagery is a useful tool, it can sometimes be misleading, as radiant heat, gases and smoke can result in a heat image that is not actual fire. The eastern edge of the active fire is now approximately 2.5 miles from the Tassajara Zen Center, but separated by several ridgelines.
Firefighters were able to contain two spot fires and a place where fire crept across the containment line along Coast Ridge Rd., 1 mile north of Anderson Peak. Managers say those fires no longer pose a threat to containment lines.
No firing operations are planned today. Fire suppression repair on the north portion of the fire has been completed. Structure protection along Partington Ridge and protection assessment work is ongoing at Tassajara Zen Center and Arroyo Seco.

8:45 am – Here is a structure protection map for the Highway One Corridor from McWay Falls south past Esalen and Hot Springs Canyon;


Structure Protection Map in PDF

7 am – After I went back to bed, there was a report by a BSVFB Member that the fire jumped the containment lines at McWay Canyon. The CHP reports this as well (note, all those “PMs” may actually be “AMs” per the initial report by brigade member, but not certain, as there is a slop over that shows on the IR flight map.

6:59 PM 7 [16] [Notification] [CHP]-Problem changed from 1184-Provide Traffic Control to FIRE-Report of Fire by CHP
5:28 PM 6 [14] 1022 LN 5-7
5:15 PM 3 [5] VEH STALLED IN # 1 LN


4 am – for all you early birds out there, here are the days maps. These clearly indicate the huge plumes we saw yesterday were NOT solely from the burn out operation, but instead from the runs the main fire made to the South, toward Lost Valley, and to the east, were it crested Black Cone. And for you trivia people out there, several of us got curious about which fire on the LPNF burned for the longest duration. It was the Zaca Fire of 2007 which burned for 60 days from 7/4/07-9/2/07.


IR Topo Map in PDF

The South Ops map has not been updated since yesterday with the run we witnessed yesterday, but there is a new operations map – the Tassajara Ops map that does show this and the run up and over Black Cone, so I include that one instead.


Tassajara Ops Map in PDF

And here are the weather and fire behavior predictions.



39 thoughts on “Soberanes Fire, Day 45, 9/4/16

  1. After this massive fire is over, seems essential for the survival of Big Sur that
    here be pressure to ensure huge fines be imposed on anyone caught lighting any kind of fire during the dry season in Big Sur. A one thousand dollar ticket for any fire might be a deterrant. Would of course mean calling in any fire seen ( with photos especially with registration plates would help). Creepy to have to police like this but given the alternative. . . . . It takes a village.

  2. Those seem to be an estimate of current fire spread, if one compares them to the IR Map and any Topo you may have laying around, as I did early this am.


  3. Thank you Kate for your steadfast reporting.

    Regarding the fire jumping the containment lines above McWay Canyon; last night the residents of Partington Ridge were all watching the location of an obvious breach of the containment line and many of us observed that it was still within the Partington Creek South Fork watershed. I am not sure whether the same breach would be observable from McWay Canyon or whether it actually spread further into McWay. But it burned at various levels almost all night. At 5:30 this morning it appeared to have quieted significantly. We are obviously hopeful that it is now under control.

  4. Thank you, Dave for that report. The Brigade member went by McWay around midnight, after 3 call outs down here on the South Coast and witnessed the fire in McWay Canyon. No winds so far this am, and very cold … Both good.


  5. Ray, you are correct, we do have to police ourselves. This morning driving from PV to Lucia I stopped at the large pullout between Naci-F. rd and Mill Creek to let the 8 vehicles with all their camping equipment and GRILL know that what they were doing was illegal- got a very gruff “we have a permit” response, to which I replied that camping on pullouts is illegal and that permit doesn’t change that fact. Then I drove up Naci. to the first pullout to let another illegal camper know the same. Once I got to Lucia, I called CHP to inform them and let them know that I took pics of their plates in case they need them. Hopefully all those people get huge fines from Miro, John or Travis and then TWEET THAT!!

  6. Kate, do the squares which are always on the maps, and the Tassajara Ops map, represent 1 square mile? If that is the case, the Tassajara is just over 2 miles within reach of the fire.

    A Tassajara member was at Cachagua meet last night and thanked the Alaskan Team for being very clear communicating clearly with the Center, while not promising any crew on the ground when/if the fire is there.

    Alaskan Chief looked rejuvenated and a bit tanned … as if he had a bit of Tassajara in him and some California sunshine … just saying.

  7. 46F at 8:15 this morning at 3000 ft on Tassajara Road. It was dripping wet from the fog/clouds. Cleared up now and gloriously cool.

  8. The IR Topo from 2:20am show slopover at the upper reached of the south fork of Partington and the upper reaches of the north fork of McWay. The map shows it crested the ridge by Black Cone and is now in the upper reaches of a fork that is part of Tassajara Creek. The fire is 2.4 miles from Tassajara as the crow flies (that’ if crows fly straight). It will be backing down mostly north facing slopes so I am hoping for a bit more time for Tassajara.

  9. JP Burns is still posted as being Closed on the sign that appears at the right side of Carmel River Bridge.

  10. My thoughts are with all of you, as they have been since this drastic fire started. Has gone on so long….I am sure you are all “disaster weary”. Take care and stay safe. Thanks Kate for posting everything…helps with me being so far away.

  11. Kate, just reread your top of page comment.

    Can you please clarify: ” (Steve Harper, whose opinion I trust, takes issue with the above statements. ” … 2.5 miles away or 1 mile?

  12. Do you know which direction air support will come from for Tassajara There is no smoke my way NNE from Tassajara. I am starting to hear some arial noise at a distance.

  13. Regine, I have a source at Paso who says that 4 tankers are flying out of there heading NW. I have tankers flying over me, but I can’t see shit – sorry, it is getting to me.


  14. Next time it is smokey here, I’ll trap it in a jar of another day in case I hyperventilate when this fire is over.

  15. Picture from Arroyo Seco, looks like it is looking into Arroyo Seco straight at Tassajara area. It can’t be far away from there.

  16. two mid-size jets, a C-130 and the DC-10 have been hammering for a few hours close north of here ( Hot Springs canyon ) so they’ve been working the slop-over at Partington and McWay. lovely to watch the amazing work of the guide-planes leading the big guys in, such a dance ( I wanna be a passenger, hoot hoot! ) and big damn planes.

    smoke from coast side of Coast Ridge rd reduced, but that doesn’t mean out.

    and btw, why does anyone from far away care whether fire is 1, 1.3, maybe 2.5 miles from Tassajara or anywhere else? if you care think nice thoughts. it’s on, it’s on now, so think your nice thoughts.

    and maybe it’s also time for people to think about what would YOU fight for? what WILL you fight for? way beyond assigning the task to planes or firefighters or etc. what’s truly important, enough to fight for? not just ‘send troops’ think it through beforehand so you’re prepared when.

    planes still flying and dropping, bless them

  17. Wangoe, are you saying fire is at Tassajara?

    I hope I would fight for the animals first!!!

  18. Hi folks…first, I’m so sorry to see all the trouble you’re all managing through and my thoughts are with you. Question: my wife and I booked a camp site at Riverside Campground right near Big Sur for a couple weeks out (Sep 15, we’ll be on our motorcycles). I have asthma, and my wife has a great fear of fires…should we change our plans, or has the fire and smokey air moved well beyond where Riverside Campground is? Any advice would be much appreciated! – KV / Seattle

  19. The DC-10 and BAe 146 aircraft have made many passes today. They come up the coast, turn in at Anderson, possibly drop along the ridge, and exit going south out of Hot Springs. I would estimate they are dropping south of Marble Peak. Midday fog on the ridge stopped all the air ops for a few hours. Helicopters dip off Anderson and Hot Springs. Seems like they go to the ridge as well. None seem to go as far east as Tassajara….from this vantage point on the coast.

  20. What I understood from last evening’s meet at Cachagua. There were lines of defense, if possible, in preferential order:

    1. line from Anderson Peak to the North end of Hennickson
    2. if 1. does not hold, from Anderson to Arroyo Seco
    3. if 2. does not hold then all the way to Nacimiento Ferguson.

    Looks like fire crossed 2. so … …. wee wee wee all the way south to Nacimiento.

    Sorry, but stress puts me in some kind of mental mode.

  21. Regine, your option #2 is still intact and the main containment line. Option 1 was because we were having low winds and many areas of the fire were going to black on their own (i.e. North of Pine Valley and some edges of the east side). In the Kirk Complex fire many areas of the fire went to black on downhill runs and at major creeks. I never saw your option #1 on a map so I can’t say much about this… only imagine that they were looking at possibilities for a smaller fire if weather cooperates.

  22. The main containment line you are mentioning, does it run with Marble peak trail, Willow creek, and or ????

  23. Kate I live up near Dolan creek and just wanted to once again thank you and the other people in the community for keeping me up to date on this fire. You folks are awesome. Thanks again. Rick

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