Soberanes Fire, Day 54, 9/13/16

1:15 pm -0 Nicholas Buford, who provided us with the great first hand account of the firing operation at Anderson Peak last night has also sent some incredible photos. About them, he has this to say:

“Here are 2 photos of yesterday’s efforts that were probably obscured from view for most people below the ridge line.

The close-up is a shot at DP-106 looking South East (Marble Peak in the bottom right corner)

The second is from the Lower West Side of the ridge, looking East. The smoke being about a half-mile south of Marble Peak. This was the flare-up that they called in Air Support to help tame.

All the best,
Nick and Cordelia”


Noon- from the USFS:

Soberanes Fire

Los Padres National Forest
Daily Update: September 13, 2016

Fire Information Line: (831) 204-0446

Incident: The Soberanes Fire is burning in the Los Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness, in 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: California Incident Management Team 4, Rocky Opliger, Incident Commander.

Current Size: 107,050 acres (69,856 acres CA-LPF; 37,194 acres CAL FIRE)
Containment: 60% Personnel: 1,384 Cause: Illegal campfire Injuries: 1 fatality, 7 injuries

Structures Destroyed:
57 homes, 11 outbuildings
Structures Threatened:
Crews: 20
Engines: 67
Helicopters: 17
Dozers: 8
Masticators: 2
Water Tenders: 7
Current Situation:

Today, the Soberanes Fire transitioned from the Alaska Incident Management Team to California Interagency Incident Management Team 4 at 6:00 A.M.

Last night firefighters successfully held the fire within indirect lines (firelines constructed away from the hot edge of the fire) and strategically ignited fires along portions of the indirect fireline. The fire also remains within existing containment lines. Main actions for today will be to continue strategic burning operations in the morning along the Coast Ridge Road, protecting structures in the Arroyo Seco area, and patrolling the fire area by air. Firefighters have also begun restoring bulldozer lines constructed early in the firefight in the northwestern area of the fire to prevent erosion and reduce other impacts.

On the coastal southwest side of the fire, crews continued to build bulldozer lines along the Coast Ridge Road for use as future control lines. Today, firefighters will continue securing this indirect control line as they progress to the south with firing operations; keeping the fire north of Rodeo Flats. Retardant has also been placed along Indians Road, about one mile and a half east of Anderson Peak.

On the east side, firefighters continue to focus on the Arroyo Seco area by pretreating indirect lines with fire retardant and continue to protect structures. The strategy is to keep the fire in the Ventana Wilderness, west of Carmel River and south of Willow Creek. Historic fire lines, constructed to suppress previous fires, are being reopened to minimize the effects to wilderness.

Yesterday evening, approximately 100 people attended a public meeting at the Arroyo Seco Fire Station and Community Center. Another community meeting will be hosted in Arroyo Seco on Thursday, September15, at 6 PM.
All Evacuation orders and warnings remain in effect.

For more information, visit: or follow us on social media at or


10:30 am – Weather prediction from John Lindsey in SLO Co., whom I follow regularly:

“This system also will produce possible rain showers and isolated thunderstorms in the Sierra Nevada. Also of note: Moisture and instability will be limited, therefore a major
thunderstorm outbreak is not expected. However, given the elevated fire danger in the region, the risk of new wildfire ignitions because of lightning is a concern.

High pressure is forecast to build over California in the wake of the departing upper-level low pressure system Wednesday into Saturday for fresh to strong (19 to 31 mph) northwesterly winds along the coastline, mostly clear September skies, except for a few areas of overnight marine low clouds along the beaches and coastal valleys, and higher temperatures primarily away from the coast. At this time, rain is not expected through the end of September.


John Chesnut notes: “From the IR read me file —
Weather Conditions –
The vicinity of the fire was heavily cloud covered.

Details –
Heavy clouds were present over the 80% of the fire. Small portions of the perimeter could be analyzed, especially the southeastern end of the fire. The majority of the perimeter is indicated as estimated.
A significant area of growth was noted along the southeastern portion of the perimeter.
Numerous isolated fires were detected within the perimeter.

Acreage –
Estimated Acreage: 107,050
Acreage Change (if any): + 1,323″ And here is his map: (BSK notes: very similar slop over on the coast ridge in both John’s map and Keith’s map posted last night and reproduced on my blog last night.)


6:00 am – I did find an IR Flight map, but it is really difficult to read, but does seem to show the new active fire line out by DP-107 to 108:


IR Flight Map in PDF

5:30 am – no IR Flight again today, but I did get a comment last night just after I went to bed that helps explain what happened on the western fire line last night. I just got to approving it this am, as I had gone to bed and a first comment from a reader has to be approved before it can post publicly.

“Hey all,

I’ve been up here with Cordelia Cluett at Marble Peak for the last couple days assisting the firefighters with their water operations. They had a successful burn yesterday at DP-106 and Marble Peak, and laid a retardant check line just a few hundred yards south of Marble Peak to contain the fire for the night crew. Around midnight last night, a dry wind came in and pushed the fire south through the check-line and made for quite an active night of trying to tame the flames. They even had to bring in some of the day shift around 4am to assist them in the operation. Around 10:30am we heard crews on the radio calling in air support to help douse some hotspots and start double-bomber lines of retardant perpendicular to the ridge to try and halt / steer the fire off the ridge. They pulled in crews from Northern divisions along to road to assist in today’s operations, setting engines all along the fire to pump hose-lines and stay with and ahead of the fire as much as possible. We heard air operations overhead all day today. From what we could discern from the radio traffic, the fire burned quite a few miles south along the ridge today, at least all the way to around DP-107. The day crew stayed with the fire until the night team was able to arrive and take over just about 40 minutes ago.

The weather here is quite cold and fogged in. Crews driving in and out are having a slow time working their way along the ridge due to visibility. It’s supposed to get into near-freezing temperatures up here tonight, and be fairly cool and dry for the next few days.

With as much activity going on along the ridge, there has been zero slop-over onto the western side of the ridge (believe me, we keep triple checking). The teams seem pretty confident in their efforts to tame the burn, as the main concern has been keeping the heat down. Where there’s fuel, there’ll be fire, but keeping it at a lower temperature will keep it from spreading too fast. That’s what most of today’s air ops were aiming to provide.

Will try to update with more pictures and information when we can.

All the best,

Nick and Cordelia”

It is quite cool (45 degrees) and foggy up here this early am, so should help with the containment lines up along the coast ridge this am. I’ll add what maps I can shortly.

Here is a briefing map that continues to resist conversion to jpeg, so this is a screen shot, but it shows where DP-107 is that Nick mentions. I do not believe the active fire line is up-to-date.


Briefing Map in PDF



18 thoughts on “Soberanes Fire, Day 54, 9/13/16

  1. Thank you as always Kate! We all appreciate the effort you put into informing everyone of the progress of the firefighters!

  2. Real shapely sparsely scattered light grey and white clouds driving at about 4000 ft past me a couple of miles above Jamesburg. They are coming from the SW. Deck dripping wet at 3000 ft from whatever happened during the night. Oh, here comes the firemen convoy up the road. This is a daily sound alerting me its somewhere between 8:30 and 9 am.

    Thinking of the creatures and their homes in harms way.

  3. Thanks for all of the hard work Kate. We all appreciate it. Any word on the fire reaching the cone peak area? I know these wild fires are horrific when near residences but when the fire is in wilderness area why not let it burn? The brush and vegetation is very thick in areas and a good burn can help out wildlife and prevent future fires. Any input is appreciated. Again, keep up the awesome work!

  4. Wondering if anything could be done to make it rain with this cloud cover I see to the west and SWW of me … like as in cloud seeding or ???

  5. I maybe totally off the wall, but just asked by phone, if ‘they’ would make it rain by cloud seeding. There is soo muchhhhh water above us. Full cloud cover now over Jamesburg. The could field joined the one that was hanging over the Salinas valley. Time to mess with the weather for a good cause …

  6. Jane, I only asked answering person to relay my suggestion/request. If I am not too much off the scientific wall as to what is possible.

    I this should be possible, the moment is now!

    Maybe a few of us should pray to the authorities immediately (religious prayer has not panned out so far and neither has my rain dance …)

  7. Cloud seeding only works if the contain super-cooled water droplets (liquid water below freezing). I doubt it would on these relatively low and warm clouds…

  8. hi kate. thanks for your blog and keeping us posted on this insidious fire. you are now part of my evening routine. but patience is running low as the fire seems to sit in some locations. have you heard reasons why the area around cachagua still remains active (or red lined on maps) rather than falling under containment (black lined)? i don’t live on that side of the fire, but they sure have been sitting in suspense for weeks for containment; as the west side of the fire containment line moves south. maybe that info came out in the arroyo seco meeting? thanks.

  9. DM, all I know is something I read on the Chimney Fire, and that is a line is not seen as “contained” until it is “wind tested.” I can envision what that means by wind tested – I.e. When winds reach a certain speed, there are no flare-ups or spottings. But I will look that up in the wildland fire terms and come back with a more definitive answer.


  10. My worry is that all the controlled firing on the West is setting the stage for the fire to fill in the rest to the East, eventually ending up on the still red line at Hennickson and Chews Ridge and hopefully not beyond. There are now fire fingers pointing East, one of them to the English Cabin in Pine Valley. Should the fire get a grip of Pine, then Jamesburg/Tassajara Road North, comes back into play. I may be dead wrong, but here it my thoughts …

  11. The other thing I can envision is that because the west is right up against the coast ridge road, with completed dozer line and now firing out operations, on that side there is no where to go, whereas on the east side, the completed dozer line is quite a distance from the active fire line. I am only making observations here. I can find nothing on “wind-tested” containment lines, when I google it, which is a term I saw for the first time on the Chimney Fire.


  12. Kate- I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your daily updates. They often contain more info than the daily updates I see on the Inciweb and Los Padres sites.
    Just a few observations that I think are pertinent to some posts I have seen.
    Fire is a critical component of the Chaparral ecology- in fact it depends on periodic fires to clear away the dead brush and allow for new growth. Unless you are in a position where rains wash the ash and soil away before recovery can occur the ash also acts as a basis for nutrient. There is of course a difference between the catastrophic fires that happen when an area hasn’t burned for 50 years and when it does every generation or so. This is a part of wild land firefighting policy. The air dropped flame retardants also have components that help the land recover from the fire. Within a couple years of the Basin Complex/Indians fire I had seen more new plant growth and wildlife than I had seen for many years previously. Anyway that’s the science end of it.
    As you well know- this whole area is quite rugged and the IMTs do not put their resources -i.e firefighters- at undue risk. They construct lines when it is prudent and safe to do so but otherwise concentrate assets on threatened structures. At one point the ops map did show that a line had been made across from near Arroyo Seco along the Tassajara/Willow Creek Drainage (the “Gash” south of the Zen Center) toward the Coast Ridge Road. You can still see that line on the ops map. It was made while the fire was still well to the north/west and not an immediate threat. Unfortunately about the time it was made the Chimney fire broke out which meant a lot of assets had to be re-assigned to that fire. The fire subsequently slopped over this line. Places like the Coast Ridge Road and the Indians/Arroyo Seco Road are also natural points for firelines. This allows you to construct firebreaks/lines in areas where you already have a head start and access for dozers,etc These indirect lines are safer when you do not have people and structures to protect. It allows you to concentrate on places like the Coast Ridge Road where you would have a lot structures threatened if the fire was allowed to slop over toward Highway 1.
    btw-My posts often read a lot more “clinical” than I really feel about these unnecessary fires but my background is technical and it shows in my writing.

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