Message from our Fire Chief

I am going to be trying to sign out early tonight, as it has been a long 5 days for me since the River Fire stated. This is going to be another marathon, and while I am experienced in them by now, they do not get any easier. It will be a marathon for all of us.

We have always felt close to our neighbors in Tassajara, Cachagua, and Carmel Valley, but never more than during a fire when we realize how close we really are. This time, we have three separate fires going simultaneously on both sides of the Santa Lucias. I doubt that has ever happened before. Getting accurate information is more difficult and resources are stretched thin statewide. Patience, understanding, and a willingness to serve one another is critical toward getting us through this time.

Let us take Matt’s words to heart, especially those of being patient with one another. Let us continue to do what few other communities do as well as we do…work together to get us through yet another tense and stressful time, together, and in tact as a community. This community always represents the best of human nature in times of emergencies and it holds such love for each other and of this place that defines us. It is during these difficult times that those qualities of ours shine. Let us shine together for as long as it takes. Bless our firefighters, first responders, neighbors, family, and friends and hang tight everyone.

Dear Beloved Big Sur Residents and Friends,

Big Sur and its residents are no stranger to fire.  We have faced many over the years and have always been strong and resilient as a community to overcome the challenges associated with them.  Last week, California was bombarded with a lighting event resulting in well over 300 fires across the state, all needing attention and resources.  Big Sur seemingly escaped unscathed that night and there was a sense of relief but also disbelief by many, myself included.  Over the next few days, the heavy smoke generated from the nearby River and Carmel Fire’s coupled with the intense heat wave made it feel as if Big Sur was already burning.

When the call came in for a vegetation fire in the area of Dolan Ridge, we could only hope that it was just the glow emitting from one of the nearby fires.  As more information came in, we learned that it was spotted by an infrared satellite mounted camera through the thick smoke and was estimated at 100 acres high up on the ridge.  Big Sur Fire quickly mobilized with nearly every apparatus and 20 personnel.  It became readily obvious we had a large fire from the intense crimson red glow filtering through the dark smoke and that it would likely become an extended incident.  Crews immediately went into notification and evacuation mode of Dolan Ridge and surrounding residences and were successful in getting everyone out safely.   Crews also worked tirelessly through the night preventing the fire from crossing Highway 1 from rollout of which there were over a dozen occurrences.

Big Sur has always been in focus when a fire starts and this time is no different however, we are seeing unprecedented need across the state for the exact same resources which leaves few to none for us here for the first time in recent memory.  Our responding partners including the US Forest Service and CalFire were only able to send a few engines and hand crews to help because nearly all other resources were committed to other incidents.  The thick smoke clinging to the coast has also shut down the use of air support short term which has made it even more apparent this will be a long duration incident.

Today, an Incident Management Team (CIIMT2) mobilized and will be assuming command of the Dolan Fire starting tomorrow morning.  I have been involved in the transition and planning processes much to our benefit and stressed the importance of timely and accurate information getting out to our community.   They are committed to that end and are committed to success with managing this incident which is now well of 8000 acres with multiple enclaves and structures threatened.  The circumstances surrounding the start of this fire are unclear but certainly suspicious and are being fully investigated by a Federal Investigative Team that will generate official statements regarding it.

Big Sur Fire is very involved supplying firefighters with local knowledge, engines and water tenders and continue to collaborate at the management level ensuring our community priorities are heard and addressed.  Current fire conditions, evacuation warnings and orders are being updated by the Incident Management Team and will be released first thing tomorrow morning by the Public Information Officers.

We must all remain patient with each other and the process and that we plan ahead as best as possible for imminent evacuations to both the north and south of the fire and that we also remain tight as a community as we have done so many times before.

Thank you all for your continued support and trust of Big Sur Fire,

Matt Harris
Fire Chief

10 thoughts on “Message from our Fire Chief

  1. Well spoken and heart full words from you, Kate, and Matt. We notice the same from our little community atop Saddle Mountain Ridge. We all come together in a crisis. Hang in there, everyone and be safe. 💜🙏

  2. Thank you, Kate & your anonymous helper for all the information I rely so heavily on. And thank you, Chief Matt and all the BS Fire volunteers for being there from the beginning. Challenging situation indeed and we all just need to heed the warnings to keep us and the firefighters safe!

  3. All the best Kate. Keeping you and the Big Sur community in my thoughts and meditations.

  4. Thank you for this update. I have sincere gratitude for you and all of your team. Prayers daily sent to you all. ❤️🙏

  5. So….what in the hell would we do without Kate? It would be “radio silence.”
    Information is nearly impossible to get…and often very general. I know everybody on the fire lines are doing their best……

  6. We are sending thanks to all of you fighting this terrible fire. And, thanks to Kate for all the info. We feel so helpless up here in Carmel, but know that are thoughts are with all of you.

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