1pm – update, the lightning has stopped. I hope it doesn’t come back…
June 22, 2008, lightning started a multitude of fires state wide. Ours was the Gallery Fire which morphed into the Basin. It was this fire that prompted this blog.
I am hearing thunder today, experiencing the lightest of sprinkles, and a muggy heavy heat I have not experienced since Hawaii, Zanzibar, and other tropical locales. The dogs are freaking over the thunder, as they always do. The coast is blanketed in fog down here. Dry lightning is not a good thing for us, as dry as we are, particularly up here in the hills. Keep vigilant, and keep an eye out. We are all look-outs, now.
I witnessed first hand the attitude of the cops in Big Sur during this fire, vs. the last one, and I know it came from the top down. Scott Miller defeated the last despot, and I worked to elect Sheriff Miller in any way I could, and was so happy to see that my trust was well-placed. He even follows my blog, and greets me at public meetings. While the deputies did their jobs, and tried to keep people both safe and out of the way of emergency vehicles, they all (that I encountered anyway) did so with compassion and understanding. sheriff Miller kept the road open, and neighbors connected. It was such a different experience – a welcome experience.
The Herald did an excellent article on this difference. I quote some of it below.
“Monterey County sheriff’s officials say they have taken a “180-degree turn” in their response to the Pfeiffer Ridge Fire in Big Sur compared to the area’s Basin Complex Fire in 2008.
“We hope that almost everything is different — a philosophical change,” Sheriff Scott Miller said.
Cmdr. Bill Kaye, who is usually posted at the Monterey substation, has been in Big Sur every day since the fire started, accompanied by Sgt. Joe Moses. Miller said “double or triple” the usual number of deputies are working in the area.
But part of the “philosophical change” means a different way of dealing with homeowners who choose not to evacuate, the sheriff said.
“For people who stayed in place, we don’t condone that.
But we are trying to be supportive,” Miller said.
As in the 2008 Basin Complex Fire, some residents are “trying to do their own fire protection activities,” he said.
“There are people who have never left the area. Some are trying to preserve their property or their friends’ property,” he said. “We’re not arresting anyone who isn’t leaving. It doesn’t resolve any problems.”
That morning, I had hung out the Flag as I always do each July. Then I left Big Sur for SF to do an appearance on KGO’s View from the Bay, ironically talking about fire safe plants and my experiences as a firefighter. While I was gone, the fire met several “trigger” points in the gorge and atop Mt. Manuel. I was on my way home when I got the news that the highway was being closed at 7pm.
When I rounded the corner at the lighthouse, I saw the extent of the fire. Pico Blanco was fully ablaze and other fires were working down the Golden Staircase in Molera. Heavy smokes spouted from Cielo Prieto and Mt. Manuel. I was the only truck heading south and was waved by from CHP and Sheriff. When I reached Front Hill, the last residents were scrambling off the hill wild eyed and dusty.
I was scattered and alone on the ranch.
The dogs paced and fussed and the smoke was dropping down with the sunset. I went out on the atv to scope the now nearly empty ridges. I shot this photo of the house with the flag moving slowly in the sunset. The house looked so vulnerable, unable to stop the angry orange smoke.