Summer Solstice and the Basin Fire

June 21, 2022
Welcome to the Solstice. On this day…

  1. the North Pole tips directly to the Sun — 23.5 degrees
  2. the entire Arctic circle never sees sunset
  3. the entire Antarctic circle never sees daylight
  4. the Northern Hemisphere sees max sunlight – first day of Summer
  5. the Southern Hemisphere sees min sunlight – first day of Winter
  6. the World experiences the longest twilight of the year
  7. the Northern Hemisphere days begin to shorten
  8. the Northern Hemisphere days being to lengthen


Along the equator, sitting exactly between two hemispheres that always trend in opposite ways, the duration of sunlight & darkness remains unchanged throughout the year. There are no astronomical seasons, and their twilight is always the shortest iii the world — less than 30 mins.


This is a republishing of a blog post I did in 2010 on the anniversary of the Basin Fire which started on this date in 2008:

Today is the longest day of the year, and also the anniversary of the Basin Fire of 2008, the event that launched this blog. Today, I hope to reflect back on that time, and post a couple of photographs I took that day, if the Internet Goddess allows. The first two photographs are mine, but scroll down for the stories and photographs of others. I have also provided a link where others shared their stories last year, and more are doing so this year. What an amazing gift we have in each other!

6:30 pm, June 21, 2008
9:00 pm, June 21, 2008

To those of you still rebuilding after losing your homes to this monster fire, you are in our hearts this day. And some of you may be interested in reading the stories some readers told about this day when I asked for stories a year ago, for others it may be still too painful. You can read them here.

Ken Harlan, of Lucia Lodge, just sent me this note and the following three photographs.

Here are three photos from the start of the fire. When the lighting started that day, I drove north to watch for strikes. The first photo is about 15 minutes after the strike that lit the fire. I was watching that ridge through binoculars as it was hit in the middle of the “black” knoll just below the active flame front. The grass was burning very slowly for about 5 minutes, and then the back side of the cell came through. The winds nearly knocked me down (I’d guess 50+ MPH) and the flames were in the trees 2-3 minutes later.

The next two photos (which I’ll attach to 2 emails to follow) are taken from the west side of 1 at Coast Gallery. Two guys fought to save that cabin on the rocky point to the right in the helicopter shot. Sadly, it later burned. I don’t know the guys or the owner of the cabin, but I always hope to get these photos to them (and I have some more).

It’s more than a little sad to recall that day.

Basin Fire #1 by Ken Harlan
Basin Fire #2, by Ken Harlan
Basin Fire #3, by Ken Harlan

Ken, thank you so much for sharing your story and images with all of us.

Avis was coming home from a town run in Monterey headed south on June 21, 2008, when she first saw the fire. She has sent the next three photos for us to enjoy, with this explanation about the photos. (her story is posted on the stories post previously mentioned):

“Okay here are 3 shots. The first one is what I saw when I rounded the corner before the gallery and first saw the knoll on fire. This was within 2 hours of the fire starting. The second one I like because of the fire tornado. It’s a little out of focus but I was using a cheap camera and the zoom was all the way in. I just like the power it represent in a fire. [ed. note: firefighters call these fire whirls, and I have posted additional info on them under the photograph.] And the last was how huge it got within the few minutes I sat there watching.”

Basin Fire #1, by Avis Latone
Basin Fire #2, by Avis Latone

“Fire Whirls In California…A Firefighter’s Perspective

Royal Burnett March 15, 2008 

Fire whirls are one of the most visual and least understood aspects of extreme fire behavior. Many a good plan has been wrecked and lots of firefighters have been burned over as a result of these events. Fire whirls used to be considered rare occurrences, but with the advent of a multiple year drought, increased communications and digital cameras, fire whirls are reported on a more routine basis.

Fire whirls happen infrequently for a brief duration. There is no recording system. The event happens in terrain that varies from flat to very broken mountains, in conditions of no wind to moderate and perhaps high winds, in fuels that vary from light to heavy, so it is nearly impossible to define the conditions under which fire whirls can appear.

We know that fire whirls can develop from energy release or from wind shear caused by the wind interacting with topographic features. Occasionally the convection column is strong enough to form an obstacle to the prevailing wind and fire whirls will develop in the lee of the column.”

Basin Fire #3, by Avis Latone

Avis, thank you so much for sharing your images and story with all of the rest of us. We are blessed in so many ways in this community.

This was a lightning ignited fire. We are not predicted to have any lightning here on the Central Coast, but lightning is predicted for Northern California this week. Let’s all manifest no fires on this day.

2 thoughts on “Summer Solstice and the Basin Fire

  1. Thank-you all for sharing these poignant stories that bring tears to my eyes and also a sense of blessing, as Kate notes. On this solstice I have been thinking about the last time I watched the Stonehenge live stream in 2019. I noticed that as the sun came closer to its dawn the sky actually appeared darker. I wrote this note to myself and look at it often: “It looks darker as it is getting lighter!” May light come . . . but not through fire.

  2. Kate, An amazing way to cover your weblog birth anniversary. These stories and photos are a rich historical testament and a vivid reminder.

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