Soberanes Fire, Day 2, July 23, 2016

8:30 pm – This is my last photo of the night on this post. If more needs to be posted after dark, I will do so on a new post, a practice I started during the Chalk in order to limit my posts to two a day.

I have a soft spot for the convict crews, probably because I was a public defender at the trial or appellate level for 30 years and had clients who worked these crews. Also, I have known as friends a number of Cal Fire crew bosses who worked with these guys. They are hard working and really give it their all for a few bucks a day and the chance to work outside the prison walls. It is a plum assignment, and there are stiff requirements to get on a crew. But when I see that long orange line, I always tear up. Photo by John Galt.



I think he means “Weston Ridge RD.” Not Western Ridge RD. At least we now have official situational reports.

7:00 from Trina Hammack again, Mid-Valley. Yup, it has exploded.


7:00 pm – it’s blown up again. These two photos were taken  just now, only a minute apart, both at 300 mm telephoto, from my watch tower up here: (Insert favorite expletive here)


6:22  just in from Cal Fire Statewide PIO: 6500 acres, 5% contained, and they used Mike Morales DC-10 retardant drop photo to tweet it. Congrats, Mike

6:15 pm – Oakland, Fremont, Hayward, & Alameda FD each sending engines and boots down to us! Yeah, East Bay. SF is already on the way.

This just sent at 6:09 pm:


4:00 pm – Top of Country Club Drive, CV, photo by Anthony Jabin:




DC-10 retardant drop by Mike Morales taken this afternoon:


3:15 pm – top of Cachuagua Grade, photo by Siobhan Warwick Griffin Wolfe


This photo taken not long ago by Trina Hammack, clearly shows this is a 3-headed beast:


2:30 – changed to an evacuation WARNING not a voluntary evacuation:

Fire and law enforcement have issued an evacuation warning for all areas of Carmel Highlands due to the potential spread of the Soberanes wildland fire to the north of its current location.

Residents are encouraged to be prepared to leave the area immediately in the event this is upgraded tp a voluntary evacuation order. Be prepared to take any medications, pets, family valuables, etc. Also, please close all windows including window coverings and leave all doors closed and unlocked if you leave.

From Monterey OES:
2:00 pm – Fire and law enforcement have issued a voluntary evacuation notice for the area of Carmel HIghlands from Corona Road at the north end to south of Mal Paso Creek at Aurora Del Mar due to the potential spread of the Soberanes wildland fire to the north of its current location.

Residents are encouraged to leave the area as soon as possible. Be sure to take any medications, pets, family valuables, etc. Also, please close all windows including window coverings and leave all doors closed and unlocked.

A temporary shelter facility has been established at Carmel Middle School, 4830 Carmel Valley Road.

Photos taken Saturday 7/23 at 1:30 pm – from Boots Road and Saddle Road by Jim Barr:

View to South


View to the West

seems to have been misplaced, for the moment. I am  too tired to figure it out, so will try again tomorrow, or just skip this one. My photo library is now in utter, and complete disarray tonight, and I am not doing anything about it until I get a little perspective back. Manana, people.





View to the South West



1:40 – Photo by Jane Goldcamp


1:15 am – let me give a description from my iPad here at my work desk. There is another HUGE plume. She is running again. In addition to the plume, there is smoke from behind Cone Peak out to the ocean, and south along the horizon as far as I can see. This puppy is pumping today, and that is not a good thing.

12:45 am – I am hearing that the wind shift that is currently taking place means the fire is making a run northward. As stated below in the comments section, this was somewhat anticipated as evidenced by the propositioning of some engines and other equipment about 10 this morning on the southern/eastern end of the Highlands.

From Mike Morales: “Wind is fierce now from Hurricane Point to Malpaso Creek Bridge. Looks S/W at gusting easily to 40+. Saw ash flying south of Bixby Bridge also leaves and debris airborne. Haven’t seen that in awhile.
The move north is astonishing. 1/2 mile from Malpaso. Went into the neighborhood and the two residents I spoke with were clueless if not defiant but once I mentioned the wind change they perked up.
CalFire based in the Highlands are patrolling.
No fixed wing or rotary. I suspect the wind is begging them off.”

All information confirmed with Monterey County OES, Cal Fire and Monterey County Sheriffs Office:
-Burn area now estimated at 3000+ acres
-1000 structures threatened
-Boy Scout camp had over 350 people shelter in place overnight and all were safely evacuated this morning
-Evacuation orders in affect for Palo Colorado, door to door notices
-Palo Colorado Rd, Lower Garapatta Rd and Westin Ridge Rd currently closed, Hwy 1 remains open
-Red Cross and SPCA shelters located at Carmel Middle School and are currently accepting donations onsite
-Incident Command Type II Team setting up at Toro Park, Cal Fire Garden Rd office currently command site
-Incident Command has been given control of Cal Fire BEU Twitter feed and will be posting updates directly from the team
-Information on air attack and ground crews will be posted shortly, teams from all over California and nearby states are in route

From early today (from the Palo Colorado Neighborhood list.)

“UPDATE FROM PALO RESIDENT: Andrew Hall from Mid-Coast
Hey All,

So as I was packing and preparing early this morning around 6 to leave a fire broke out on our property on the south side of garrapata ridge (the fire jumped the ridge by ember). I called calfire right away and then an hour later to report. After about 3-4 hours after the fire start a spotter plane and helicopter arrived. The helicopter dumped water on the upper portion of the fire that was making a run for the ridge. The fire was still spreading down towards our house, as well as east and west along the ridge. The canyon was empty heading out except for a cal fire personal who said he was going to take a look at it to see if he could get crew in. The fire is easily defensible, I have a fire hydrant right at it’s base, a trail leading to the southern flank and an access road that was cleared down below. The fire is spreading but not at an extremely rapid pace, so I will cross my fingers it can be put out. Hope everyone got out safely and that our firefighters can put it out safely.”

Saturday, 7/23 at 11:30 am  by Jane Goldcamp from a ridge in Carmel Valley.


Here’s the same thing from Salinas, about the same time:


And one from Marina


My retired fire fighting friend, and co-administrator when I need help, Mike Morales took this one this am, pre-dawn. Yes, that is a light on someone’s house in that shape. Love it!


10:08 am – Report from Garrapatos RD. The Calvary has arrived and they are bombing the sh*t of the fire that is approaching.

From earlier this am,

From the helipad furthest west on Whiterock Ridge.

It’s running south to the back side of the Ridgeline running down from Mt. Carmel. Seems really hard that it would run this way. That’s about five miles away. Absolutely no activity up here.

Please credit photo and info by Paul Ingram. He’s onsite.


9:50 am – plume died down, it is quieting down, thankfully. My friend’s panic is abating after puking. Here are a couple dawn photos taken by Mike Morales:


9:20 am – I have been notified by a local that the fire is only 1000 ft from taking out Garrapatos Road.  And 9 homes that stand in its way. This local has, until now, remained calm and the voice of reason in the face of panic by so many others. That probably scares me more than what this person has to say. I am watching the drama unfold to the window to my right as I sit here at my iPad. I can watch from a safe distance, but my heart cries for my friends, my old neighborhood, and the land.

9:00 am – It is running again!! I can see a major increase in smoke over the past few minutes, plume building rapidly. Any photo I take will be outdated in minutes, but will try.

Oh, and here is a photo taken by John Selmo around 8:30 am from Mal Paso showing the northern edge of the fire.


Fire map from 7 am briefing. 1800 acres, 0% containmentk. BTW, for the uninitiated, that line of crosses to the north of Palo Colorado Canyon usually denotes a dozer line that has been or is being cut. I learned that from many times attending these meetings over the years. 😉 Keith Vandervere says that thermal imagining puts the fire much further east than this map shows.


Helicopter 106 all good and back in the fight this am. Photo by Matt Vogelpoht this am in CV.


Here is the view from the north, taken at 7:50 am – Ridge above CV, photo by Jane Goldcamp. But according to Keith’s fire activity map below, most of the activity last night was to the south.


From XT:



photos by Kodiak Greenwood, sent by Lisa Kleissner:



See the house? Amazing.

Photo below from last night from Weston Ridge, Photo by Maren Muter, taken at 10 pm-(okay, must have messed this one up. Will go back and look for correct photo.)


7 am – Uh, oh … There is a plume forming. Darn. BTW, must be expecting lots of support for lots of days as they moved the location of the Fire Camp from Garrapata Park to Toro Park. I know the food vendor.

6:30 am – got 5 hours of sleep last night. Now,  I’m playing catch up. No visible plume this am. Fog over the ocean moving in down here, appears to be on the coast further north. By or shortly after midnight, fire given as 2,000 acres with eminent threat to at least one structure on Palo Colorado (I’m guess really Garrapata Ridge, since that would be first) but don’t know whose. Boy Scout Camp sheltered in place with MCSO, Cal Fire, and Ham Operator on site.

Here is a rather dramatic photo from Garrapata Ridge by Jessica Neafsey:


I’ll have more after coffee, and as more information becomes available.

Garrapatos Vegetation Fire

11:00 pm – this report just in around an hour ago from Bette Nelson. The house that burned was the Long House. It was occupied by the homeowner, Susie Barnett, and her renter Jeff and his 3 dogs at the time of the fire. Bette is reporting that the latest she heard was that it was probably started by a downed power line, not a transformer.

Also see the comment posted at 11 pm by Scott Bogen below, who is a volunteer Mid-Coast Fire Brigade member, who has first-hand knowledge of this fire and tells what he knows. Thanks Bette and Scott for bringing us all up-to-date.

Our prayers go out to Susie and Jeff and hope they can find interim housing and that Susie can rebuild.

4:30 pm – report is that the fire is out. One hour and 15 minutes – great job Mid-Coast Fire Brigade and Cal Fire!! Congratulations on a good save. I am very sorry for the family that lost their home, however. It was reported to me that it was from a transformer that landed on their porch. I certainly hope PG&E will be helping them rebuild!

4:00 – reports that a propane tank exploded, and that Mid-Coast and/or Cal-Fire are asking the CHP to assist in road closures. Unclear which roads at this time. Vegetation is reported at approximately 1/2 acre.

3:40: UPDATE: IT IS GARRAPATOS. See this comment:
Kate, The fire is in a house above us at the end of Garrapatos Rd off of Palo Colorado. They think it was from a downed transformer. Midcoast fire & Cal fire are on site. We can see the flames & smoke from our house which down in the canyon near the creek.
Bette Nelson.

Also reported structure fully engulfed and a second structure threatened.

3:18 pm – Structure involved. No further details. This is a call-out on the CB, so I have not confirmed information, yet.

If this is the real McCoy, winds will play a major role, as it is howling in Big Sur proper, as well as up here.

Catching up is hard to do, and I have announcements, reports, photos, up the whazzo to post.