Soberanes Fire, Day 61, 9/20/16


Afternoon from John Chesnut. If you are reading this, John, your maps are absolutely invaluable to me and others. Thank you.


**From US NationalWeather Service San Francisco Bay Area/Monterey California**

RED FLAG WARNING FOR the Soberanes Fire area from 3:00 pm Wednesday, September 21 through 9:00 pm Thursday for strong NW winds.

9:50 am – new statement from the USFS: “Unfavorable weather conditions and strong NSW winds, carried embers across the control line near Chews Ridge and into heavy fuels. This wind event produced a spot fire on the east side of the dozer/containment line resulting in a new evacuation order. In addition, two evacuation warnings were issued.”

On the Evacs, they had this to say: “A new evacuation order was issued for the east side of Tassajara Road from Chews Ridge to Bruce Ranch. Bruce Ranch east along Anastasia Canyon to Carmel Valley Road. Carmel Valley Road south from Anastasia Canyon to Tash Ranch.
New Evacuation Warnings were issued from:
North of Carmel Valley Road from Hastings Preserve, from Cahoon Ranch east to Tash Ranch.
The Evacuation Order for Tassajara Road south of Chews Ridge remains in effect.
The Evacuation warning for the east side of the fire near Arroyo Seco, southwest of East Carmel Valley Road starting at the intersection of East Carmel Valley Road and Piney Creek Road, extending east to the Arroyo Seco Road remains in effect. As well as the warning for the Arroyo Seco Road from East Carmel Valley Road extending west past the Arroyo Seco Campground.”

8:30 am – There is a fire hotline I would encourage you to call to express your concerns, frustrations, and to ask questions. I will be in and out today with the life of country living (frig went out, hose nossels broke, you know the routine). That number is: 831-204-0446. Share your observations in the comment sections and I will check in to my email for any photos sent – I will create a new post for those immediately.

Here is John Chesnut’s Map for this morning:


Before the maps, last night-early this am, MCSO issued an evacuation order: “The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office is ordering an evacuation for the east side of Tassajara rd from Chews Ridge to Bruce Ranch, east along Anastasia Cyn to CVR and south to Tash Ranch. Any questions call 831/204-0446.” There is also an evacuation warning for an area of Carmel Valley Road. “Evacuation warning has been issued for north of Carmel Valley Rd. from Hastings Reserve to the Cahoon Ranch.” From someone who got a reverse 911 last night/early am.

Here is the evacuation map. Yellow is evacuation order and light blue is evacuation warning:


Evacuation Map in PDF


IR Map in PDF

Here is the helicopter IR flight at 4 pm – it wasn’t posted until 10:30 last night:


VETS Helicopter IR in PDF


Operations Map in PDF

35 thoughts on “Soberanes Fire, Day 61, 9/20/16

  1. this is not good… but thank you kate! Was up early yesterday and saw the sun rise. It was BRIGHT RED! Never seen anything like it.. must be a fire effect. Did anyone get a photot?

  2. Hey Kate,

    Do you know if there has been anything done to protect Jack English’s Cabin in Pine Valley? I can see how it could be looked at as an insignificant structure to lose from the higher ups but I think that cabin means an awful lot to those of us who have been there or seen it. In my humble opinion it is a valuable piece of Ventana history that is worth putting in the effort to save.

  3. These evacuation orders make no sense. East Tassajara Rd means my cousin across the road from me is under evacuation orders but we’re not when the fire is burning right near our property line? Or it means none of us have evacuation orders since our property line ends at Bruce Ranch? They need to make this more clear.

  4. Thanks Billy for the concern. Thank you Kate for continuing to keep us informed. This is a truly outstanding community.

  5. I have been worried for the last few days about, what in my opinion, has been overly aggressive burnout operations, and now it appears those fears were for good reason. And I agree with what Keith said on…the information from the Forestry Dept has dribbled off into nothing. People need to be told what is happening…this is what causes people to panic, not knowing. I’ve been watching HUGE plumes go up for days from my home on Laureles Grade, and kept thinking, “Why in the world are they burning on this end????” Ugh…people in the evacuation areas, please be safe, and I hope you are all OK. 🙁

  6. Thank you! According to the map we are in warning zone, not mandatory like the sheriff said… but better safe than sorry I suppose. Hoping they get this under control soon.

  7. I don’t know if related but Monterey Fire Dept sent out engines about 7:45, anxiously waiting for info updates.

  8. Thank you! Any info is appreciated. According to the map we are in warning, but sheriff knocked on our door and told us mandatory last night at 1 am… but better safe than sorry I suppose. Hoping they get this figured out soon…

  9. What is inside the two green boxes- between the English cabin and Chew’s Ridge? This map shows the fire edge right on them.

  10. If you are talking about John Chesnut’s map, there are little green markers for mountain peaks and there is one unturned area that looks like a map. If you are talking about one of the other maps, please identify it for me.


  11. I’m looking about the green boxes on the operations/briefing map. The green marks things to defend, such the English cabin, and Tassajara Road. I’m not familiar with what the other boxes contain.

  12. I also heard the fire engines at 7:30 this morning near the mouth of the valley. I checked the radio traffic on firescan; if I understood it correctly, there was a auto accident and vegetation fire near Quail.

  13. I can see Church Ranch and Caves, not at the fire line yet. There are other green boxes north of them that are, by Miller Canyon and “Tan Bark”.

  14. CV Mom The green line with hatch marks on the Briefing Map delineate the wilderness boundary. There are in-holding with in the wilderness. They look like boxes, but are showing private in-holdings within the wilderness.

  15. I wish I could say that I am surprised that the large burn operation on Chews Ridge has “slopped over” the fire lines. Unfortunately, large area burn-offs frequently get out of control. Prescribed burns are best controlled in small area segments and then the burned patches are brought together. Due to the “disaster” nature of the Soberanes fire, and access difficulties due to dense vegetation, etc., they decided to take some risks in order to establish the large N-S running firebreak. I sincerely hope that the US Forestry Service scales back the burn-out operations now, and ramp up other tactics: more water, more hand-crews, and more planes. I understand that the burn out operations are faster and cheaper for them to execute, but they are harder on the community’s air quality and our ventana wildlife.

  16. Bummer- Kate alluded to this yesterday but it looks like the USFS may have some ‘splainin to do. Looks like some things got out of control at what was supposed to be a controlled burn. I must confess I was surprised.

  17. Soberanes inciweb, looks like mop-up action and no new planned firebreaks. Personnel seems to have almost doubled. I viewed their action plan last Friday and it appeared to be executed exactly as they explained. Looked like a fire relay of smoke plumes going off this weekend. Very happy to see vehicles on Hennicksens Ridge those evenings where I thought there were no roads. Green Hot shot crews trucks driving by the next morning. My Ipad couldn’t get the red sun at 6:30 in the morning. I try to document what I have done on the property. Wow, looked pretty scary last year! My 100 ft extension cord doesn’t make it across property to blow off leaves around firewood pile, add another 50 feet. Glad I blew property around home, next morning ash everywhere.

  18. We are on a bump on the side of the hill that is the top of Parrot Ranch Rd., so could see part of the south sky no others could view – well, from miles away on Laureles Grade I’m sure you could, but not our close neighbors as no one else has our perspective. Last night at 11 that south sky was really bright orange! Fire reflecting off big smoke columns. And wind was coming directly FROM it! The prevailing breeze/air movement is from west 99% of the year. So this was remarkable. Figuring it to be slop-over from the Chew’s Ridge back burn, it was scary to think it could be coming our way. Fighters can’t win against wind. But woke to calm – just lots of smoke and ash that have worsened as the day wears on….

  19. The wind change had been predicted for 4pm. The backfire should have locked down hours before then. The spot fire- according to inciweb- started at 8pm.

  20. Does anyone know how close the fire is to the Nason’s ranch? I’ve been watching this burnout with bated breath. We knew that Pine Valley and Miller would burn during this operation. We were worried that they wouldn’t be able to hold the back burn along Chew’s Ridge unfortunately for good reason. Are there crews in there protecting homes in the new evacuation area? Does anyone need help clearing? I’m calling the information line now.

  21. Well, let’s hope the USFS “control burns” don’t get further out of control. We lived through the great Los Alamos NM wildfire of a few years back, set as a “control burn” by a dimwit ranger at Bandelier National Monument who apparently didn’t check the weather forecast.

    That incompetent, iirc, was forced into early retirement but kept his juicy federal pension. Not even a reprimand, ims, though I suppose early retirement sort-of was.

    Always risky to be setting fires out in the woods, even by firefighters. These guys were even dropping aerial incendiaries!

  22. Crystal English, the Nason Ranch appears on the map as Bruce Ranch. From The closest place on the Chews Ridge containment line only 1 mile. Depending on the slop-over into upper Anastasia Canyon and how far it ran it could be closer, but the current maps do not show how far the slop-over actually ran.

  23. Urgent – fire weather message
    National Weather Service San Francisco Ca
    1240 pm pdt tue sep 20 2016

    …Dry cold frontal passage to bring strong northwest winds to
    the Soberanes fire…

    .A dry cold front will reach Monterey county starting Wednesday
    afternoon. Typical afternoon onshore winds will start to be
    enhanced as the front approaches. The strongest winds will occur
    overnight Wednesday into Thursday. The strongest winds will be
    over the ridges above 3000 feet near Chews ridge and Tassajara
    road where gusts from 35-40 mph will be common by Thursday
    morning. Strong and gusty northerly ridge top winds will continue
    through the day Thursday before gradually diminishing Thursday
    evening. Even though temperatures will be cool with slightly
    higher humidity on Thursday…Winds of this magnitude will create
    critical fire weather conditions.

  24. Hmm I’m wondering if strong NW winds won’t push the western ‘finger’ of heat perimeter towards the burn line they created along Chews ridge, effectively working as a back burn should. Its looking like TZC is going to be ‘sandwiched’. But won’t NW winds will also push that east portion burn line (which appears to have already slopped over before the winds arrive) in a south easterly direction. Quite worrisome.

  25. North west winds do indeed push in a south easterly direction. I am concerned about Tassajara, even knowing they are as prepared as is humanly (and divinely) possible.


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