Monday, Monday …

Both the La Brea and the Lockheed Fires turned the corner Saturday night, and they are well on their way to mop-up and de-mobilization, thankfully. Lockheed is 6,843 acres – 65% containment; La Brea is 86,811 acres – 64% containment. We’ve got some terrific firefighting teams. No houses lost in either fire. 2 outbuildings damaged in the Lockheed, and one old, unused Ranger Station in the La Brea. THANK YOU FIREFIGHTERS AND ALL THEIR SUPPORT TEAMS, AT HOME AND ON THE LINE!!

Now, on to other pursuits this week!

And a final note for this Monday — don’t forget the 18th Annual Big Sur Jade Festival is coming up October 9, 10, 11th. No post cards are being sent out this year, as we have grown as much as we can handle!

Lockheed-Santa Cruz Fire & La Brea Fire, 8/15/09

Cause of La Brea fire revealed. It was a cooking fire at an illegal marijuana grow site. See here for the full article: USFS Press Release

Last update of the evening, unless something untoward happens. First, here is a video of the La Brea Fire, set to music, about 8 mins. long: click here

And now, I leave you with one of Stan Russell’s signature sunset photos taken this evening from Scott Creek and Highway One:


6:00 pm – Lockheed: CalFire reports:
Acres Burned: 6,843 acres
Containment 6,843 acres – 40% containment
Structures Destroyed: 2 outbuildings damaged

La Brea: inciweb reports:

Current Situation
Total Personnel 1,980
Size 75,486 acres
Percent Contained 25%

And lest we forget, 30 years ago today, in an area quite near to the currently burning La Brea fire, 4 firefighters lost their lives on the Spanish Ranch Fire on August 15, 1979. They were: Captain Ed Marty, and firefighters Scott Cox, Ron Lorant and Steve Manley. While lessons learned over the years have increased the safety of the firefighters on the line, let us never forget how truly dangerous firefighting is.

9:30 am – Lockheed Fire Incident Command reports: 6,800 acres, 30% containment.

8:00 am – inciweb is reporting the La Brea fire exceeds 75K acres, still 10% containment. CalFire still lists Lockheed at 5K+ with 15% containment.
Lockheed GeoMac from this morning’s 3 am pass:
Here’s the GeoMac for La Brea:
7:30 am – Another day, and still fires, even more of them. (The Yuba Fire started yesterday afternoon.) The two on the Central Coast are the only two I can blog about. Lockheed was reported at 5K+ acres and 15% contained as of 10pm last night, per CalFire. The Governor scheduled to tour the area today. La Brea, again as of last night was estimated at over 69K acres with 10% containment. Evacuation Orders in effect for both fires. Winds and heat will be factors for both fires today. As updates arrive, I will post here.

USFS photo of the flames at La Brea Fire:
flames, la brea

Helicopter in action:
La Brea Fire Helicopter

Lockheed (Santa Cruz) & La Brea Fires, 8/14/09

And unless something drastic happens tonight, I will leave you with this incredibly gorgeous photograph by Stan Russell of Santa Cruz. This was taken at 7:50 pm from the Surfer’s Museum at Steamer Lane. Thank you, Stan!!


7:30 pm- Fire updates: La Brea: “From South Ops fire was at 69,131 acres with 10% containment as of 17:45PST” Inciweb confirms the acreage. Another report indicates it is “cranking.” Lockheed: KRON reports they got a handle on the “blow out” in scott creek and last chance rd area. Still lots of smoke, good live feed on KRON’s website.

There are several other fires: Yuba, Corral, and Coffin which are affecting resources, but not the Central Coast, so I am not reporting on them here.

5:00 pm – Lockheed update – “Wind and fire activity picking up in the Scott Creek drainage, per Cal Fire having a “blow out” sending lots of resource to hold this last operational periods work. SC County covered in smoke.”

4:00 pm – A state of emergency has been declared for the Lockheed Fire, by the Lt. Governor of California this afternoon. La Brea continues to rage. It has grown 20K acres in the last 24 hours, according to one source.

3:00 pm – Thankfully, the smoke from the Lockheed Fire is drifting out to sea, and conditions to the north are improving considerably. Unfortunately, the smoke from the La Brea to the southeast is impacting us down here on the South Coast, as least visually. I no longer “smell” the smoke.

This is a photo of the Martin Mars over Lake San Antonio taken yesterday:

Only 5 Martin Mars ships were completed toward the end of WWII. Named the Marianas Mars, Philippine Mars, Marshall Mars, Caroline Mars, and a second Hawaii Mars, the 5 production Mars aircraft entered service ferrying cargo to Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.

Three of the original five tankers either crashed, or were destroyed in a Typhoon, while docked. The two surviving tankers are based at Sproat Lake near Port Alberni. The Philippine Mars is undergoing “extensive maintenance and renovation” and will not be ready to fly again until 2010. As of August 13th 2009, the Hawaii Mars was in service fighting the La Brea fires on the Central Coast of California. This is the one known as Tanker 223.

Here is a classic fire shot of the La Brea Fire:

Picture of the La Brea Fire sent by John Snow (ORC Fire). on Twitpic by John Snow (ORC Fire)

Noon update – La Brea Fire. All hell has broken loose, if this GeoMac is accurate. Look at all the long range spotting:
cluster fuck-la brea
One of my most knowledgeable sources says the Los Alamos fires have been contained, and is therefore suspicious that the GeoMac is 4-8 hours behind realtime. Still, it is of real concern on this monster.

Here is a fabulous panoramic of the smoke from Lockheed drifting down hanging over our coast, Carmel Valley, and Los Padres National Forest. Photo by Kelly O’Brien, reporter for KUSP and resident of Jamesburg/Cachagua:


11:00 am – Lockheed update:

This thermal map shows where it jumped the Empire Grade:

Lockheed Fire Incident Information:
Last Updated: August 14, 2009 10:55 am
Date/Time Started: August 12, 2009 7:16 pm
Administrative Unit: CAL FIRE San Mateo – Santa Cruz Unit
County: Santa Cruz County
Location: Bonny Doon area – Smith Drainage
Acres Burned: 4,170 acres
Containment 4,170 acres – 5% containment
Structures Destroyed: 2 outbuildings damaged
Threatened: More than 250 residence are currently threatened in the Swanton and Bonny Doon communities.
Evacuations: Mandatory evacuations for Bonny Doon and Swanton affecting 2,000-2,400 people.
Cause: Under Investigation
Cooperating Agencies: CAL FIRE, Santa Cruz County Sherriff
Total Fire Personnel: 676
Engines: 120
Fire crews: 16
Dozers: 15
Water tenders: 3
Costs to date: $ 750,000
Major Incident Command Team: CAL FIRE ICT #9
Conditions: Significant resources have been ordered for this incident. Problems and concerns include weather, steep terrain and limited access to the fire perimeter. Strong gusty onshore winds are predicted today, and could push the fire further to the east toward the community of Bonny Doon.
An evacuation center has been established at the Vintage Church at Hwy 1 and Mission. A large animal evacuation center has been set up at the Watsonville fairgrounds and a small animal evacuation center has been established at 7th & Rodriguez.

8:00 am – La Brea update: While most of the information on inciweb is from yesterday, they did provide an update on personnel and acreage. Impressive gains last night:

Current Situation
Total Personnel 1,859
Size 67,092 acres
Percent Contained 10%
Labbrea perimeter map
(“borrowed” from firefighterblogger’s twitter pics)

Having difficult finding any “official” updates on the Lockheed Fire this morning. Will post more when I know more.
6:30 am – reports are not in yet, as a smoky dawn just greeted me, but one report on twitter during the night indicates they “lost” the Horse Canyon line on La Brea. On the Lockheed Fire, I have seen little new information so far this morning. Will continue to track both during the day.

Lockheed-Santa Cruz Fire & La Brea Fire Updates 8/13/08

9:00 pm – Monterey County Strike Team Deployment Update;

Monterey County Type 1 Strike Team 2175A -STL CH5202 North County Fire, Engines – North County Fire, Salinas City Fire, Marina Fire, Salinas Rural Fire, Presido Of Monterey Fire – Deployed 8/12 @ 2357 Hrs.

Monterey County / Santa Clara County Type 1 OES Strike Team 2804A – STL CH5500 Salinas Rural Fire, Engines – OES312 Carmel Valley Fire , OES326 Salinas Rural Fire, OES356 North County Fire , OES289 Santa Clara County, OES327 UTF – Deployed 8/13 @ 0320 Hrs – Waiting on Region 2 to advise on fill for 5th Engine….

Monterey County Type 3 Strike Team 2176C – STL CH6406 Monterey Fire, Engines – Salinas City Fire, Seaside Fire, Monterey Fire, Soledad Fire, Fort Hunter Liggett – Deployed 8/13 @ 1514 Hrs.

Monterey County committed to another Type 1 Strike Team, if needed….
Andrew Smith, who lives by the private airport in Bonny Doon sent me 5 photos taken around 5 pm this evening from the airport. CalFire is using the airport, and they told him the fire was about 4 miles from there. I am still attempting to download them all, but one came through, so I’ll post that one here:
8:00 pm updates – Tonight, the smoke is so bad. I can smell it, I can see it. I am reliving last summer’s fires. I cannot see any of the ridges to the north or south of me. The following photos show why. These were taken tonight at 7:20 pm from Natural Bridges State Park, looking over the bay to Monterey. Photos by Stan Russell of Santa Cruz.



6:00 pm Fire updates: Both the La Brea and the Lockheed Fires were quite busy all afternoon. Mandatory evacuations for both fires, serious spread, and many, many resources joined the two fights.

Here is the fire perimeter map for Lockheed:
lockheed fire map

Here’s the evacuation map for Lockheed:
Lockheed Evacuation area

Here is the latest (7 pm) of La Brea Fire:

Current Situation
Total Personnel 1,859
Size 48,457 acres
Percent Contained 10%
Fuels Involved
Primarily Chaparral with with areas of grass and timber.
Fire Behavior
The fire became active late morning with wind driven runs down interior ridges. In the Cuyama Valley and along the southwest side, the fire made large uphill runs resulting in the large smoke plums seen from the surrounding areas.
Significant Events
Crews continue to hold and mop up along along the north portion of the Treplett fuel break by Miranda Pine. Structure protection has been implemented along Foothill Road in Cottonwood Canyon and Pine Canyon. Fire continues to burn south down Horse canyon towards the Sisquoc River. Evacuation orders were issued for all of Tespusquet Canyon, Colson Canyon, including the Blazing Saddlesanyon Community and all of Ruiz Canyon. The evacuation order is still in effect for the 14 threatened residences on Foothill Road and the 7 residences on the Buckhorne Ridge. An evacuation warning was issued via reverse 911 to the 104 residences in Cottonwood Canyon. Forest Service closure order no. 09-13-5100-10 is in effect for areas in and around the fire.
1:00 pm La Brea Fire Update:

From Inciweb updates;

Effective at 12:00 p.m., Thursday, August 13, 2009, a mandatory Evacuation Order was issued by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for the following area due to fire activity of the La Brea Fire:

ALL of Tepusquet Canyon, from Santa Maria Mesa Road to Highway 166
ALL of Colson Canyon, including the Blazing Saddles community
ALL of Ruiz Canyon

The canyon roads are being closed to the public to allow for the evacuations.

Fire and Sheriff Officials estimate the new evacuation orders include about 150 homes and ranches.

Now 40,470 Acres @ 10%
Noon update, Lockheed Fire:

* 2,300+ acres, 0% contained
* Fire jumped Molina Creek triggering mandatory evacuation of Bonny Doon area affecting 500-1,000 homes
* CAL FIRE ICT #9 (Hutchinson) has assumed command
Fire activity is increasing. Columns are becoming more vertical and are a dark brown and some are black.

ABC channel 7 streaming live
10:00 am – here are some shots sent to me by readers. One was taken w/i the hour from East Santa Cruz, Live Oak area, by Jon Libby. I cannot get that one to load. This one, is by Martin McGuire taken from Highway 9 lookout, near Skyline at dawn:

You can see the smoke just visible over the ridge.

Here is the one from Jon Libby:


9:30 am –
more tv coverage, click here

Santa Cruz Fire update:

2,300 ACRES 0 Percent contained

– 250 residences threatened

-Movement: south east direction

-Threats: timber, powerlines, Davenport, Bonny Doon

-Needs: engine, dozers, crews, overhead


-Fuels: 6 Dormant Brush, Hardwood Slash
7:30 am -Lockheed/Big Creek – resources being called in from all over the state for the Lockheed/Big Creek Fire. It is getting all the attention, currently.

La Brea inciweb report moments ago:
personnel 1,441
Size 36,108 acres
Percent Contained 10%

6:30 am – Getting a lot of private email regarding smoke in Big Sur. As far as I know, and trust me, I’ve checked, we are experiencing the drift from the Santa Cruz Fire, the Lockheed or Big Creek Fire. (it’s having an identity crisis) It was horrific last night, and continues to be. Bonny Doon is threatened. Last Chance is being evacuated. No update on acreage, but by 1 am, when I went to bed, it had grown exponentially from 40 acres at 8:30 pm to over 2000 acres by 1 am.

Here is the modis map of the area:
Big Creek Fire Map

Here is live feed of the Santa Cruz Fire (click here)

Pine Valley on the La Brea Fire was evacuated last night around midnight. Also don’t have acreage on this one, yet. Will be checking both and reporting, as I am able.

La Brea Fire Update, 8/12/09

The Forest Service Special Agents on the Fire Investigation Team is asking for the public’s assistance to help establish the cause of the La Brea Fire which started on August 8, 2009. Investigators have spoken to witnesses, but are still seeking additional information that may assist with the ongoing investigation into the fire.
Specifically, the investigators are seeking any additional information relating to a tan or gold colored 2004-2005 Chevy van that was last seen on Sierra Madre Road on the afternoon of August 8, on the Los Padres National Forest, east of the city of Santa Maria. The van is similar to that in the attached photo. [ed- no photo attached]
Anyone who was in that general area at the time or has other information about the origin of the fire is urged to contact investigators at 805-686-5074. Callers may remain anonymous.

Evening update –

Current Situation
Total Personnel 1,815
Size 29,480 acres
Percent Contained 10%
Fuels Involved
Primarily Chaparral with with areas of grass and timber.
Fire Behavior
Fire was active in the North, made uphill runs and was moving down the slope. Cuyama Valley continues to exhibit rapid rates of spread in the light fuels.
Significant Events
Evacuation orders are still in place areas of Moon and Eckert Canyons and evacuation warnings are still in effect for the areas bounded by Cottonwood Road and Wasioja Road between Highway 166 and Sierra Madre Road. Forest Service closure order no. 09-13-5100-10 is in effect for areas in and around the fire.
Planned Actions
Actions for this evening include construction of line on the two slope overs of Sierra Madre Road and structure protection along Foothill Road. Crews will hold and mop up on Sierra Madre Road and continue to construct direct line along Horse Canyon.
Growth Potential
Terrain Difficulty
The La Brea Fire is being managed under unified command with CAL FIRE and California Interagency Management Team 3.

9:00 am – alot of the information hasn’t been changed since last night, but here is the current resources and acreage numbers from inciweb.

Current Situation
Total Personnel 1,277
Size 25,724 acres
Percent Contained 10%
Fuels Involved
Primarily Chaparral with with areas of grass and timber.
Fire Behavior
Fire was active in the North, made uphill runs and was moving down the slope. Cuyama Valley continues to exhibit rapid rates of spread in the light fuels.
Significant Events
Evacuation orders are still in place areas of Moon and Eckert Canyons and evacuation warnings are still in effect for the areas bounded by Cottonwood Road and Wasioja Road between Highway 166 and Sierra Madre Road. Forest Service closure order no. 09-13-5100-10 is in effect for areas in and around the fire.

7:00 am – No official updates, yet. However, the ff sites are reporting an unbelievable number of call-up orders for resources last night, to start this morning, which seems to indicate it was not a quiet night. I will update as I learn more. In the mean time, enjoy some new photos below.

La Brea Fire Update, 8/11/09

3:00 pm – I reproduce this report from the Interagency Fire Center because of the percentage of growth from yesterday. What a jump!! Also note the # of acres is inaccurate, as inciweb was sayin 20,622 early this morning, and I am sure it continues to grow, as we can all attest from the increasing smoke. One, unconfirmed, report was that there was a blow-up some time this morning.

Fire Information Report for La Brea
Wildland Fire Incident
Report Date: 11-AUG-09
Burnt Area: 14,778 Acres (491% increase from yesterday)
Location: Santa Barbara County, CA (21 miles East of Santa Maria)
Cause: Under Investigation
Incident Team Type: IMT Type 1
Team Leader: J. Pincha-Tulley
Containment Status: 0% contained)
Expected Containment: Unknown
Fuels: Also present in some areas are Fuel Model 1 Sh 0.00 1634

Fire report information is based on the most recent Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR) provided by the National Interagency Fire Center and is subject to change. The USDA Forest Service Remote Sensing Applications Center is not responsible for the accuracy of this information.
2:00 pm – Effective at 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, August 11, 2009, an Evacuation Order was issued by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for the following areas due to fire activity of the La Brea Fire: Western Boundary: Sierra Madre Road. Southern Boundary: Cottonwood Road · Eastern Boundary: Highway 166 · Northern Boundary: Spoor Canyon This area includes Moon and Eckert Canyons. Fire officials contacted the 14 occupied ranches in the area last night and they are moving livestock as necessary. The majority of the area is very lightly populated. The new mandatory Order replaces the previous Evacuation Warning for the same area issued earlier today. An Order is defined as instructing community members in a defined area to leave the area immediately due to a threat to life and property from an emergency incident. In addition. the Evacuation Warning area is now moved to include areas bounded by Cottonwood Road and Wasioja Road, between Highway 166 and Sierra Madre Road. Evacuation Warning means people in the warning area need to be prepared to leave should the situation change. Fire managers will alert the Sheriff Office if fire behavior in the future requires a change to the warning status.

Fire officials contacted the 14 occupied ranches in the area last night [re: the evacuation warning] and they are moving livestock as necessary. The majority of the area is very lightly populated.

A great video of the event yesterday by the local NBC affiliate can be seen here:

La Brea Fire

7:00 am – from this morning’s inciweb update:

Current Situation
Total Personnel 1,062
Size 20,622 acres
Percent Contained 10%
Fuels Involved
Primarily Chaparral with with areas of short grass and timber.
Fire Behavior
Fire has sloped over the line in the Timber Peak area along Sierra Madre Ridge. There is 290 acre slope over in Moon Canyon.
Significant Events
Closure order no. 09-13-5100-10 is in effect for areas in and around the fire.
Planned Actions
Crews with improve and construct line on the southeast side of the fire and hold and mop up on the Sierra Madre Road and construct direct line along Horse Canyon. Self sufficient crews will build fire line until the end of their operational period and remain at or near the point while off duty and begin building fireline during their next shift where they left off. This is referred to as “Coyote Tactics”.
Growth Potential
Terrain Difficulty
California Interagency Incident Management Team 3 has assumed command of the fire. (Pincha-Tulley’s team)

La Brea Fire update, 8/10/09

9:00 pm – Reports below, but first a couple of photographs

Those of you who have been reading my blog over the last year, even if on and off, know of the crystal clear photos I have posted of my view to the north and Cone Peak. This was tonight, around 7 pm. That is ALL smoke, folks, and smoke from the La Brea Fire a county away!

And the sun tonight. But for the smoke, this would have been full of “flares” and blow-outs, and little would have been visible. Instead, the smoke shows us our sun in a different way.

Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 8:13 PM
Subject: La Brea Fire, Santa Barbara County, Update

Los Padres NF

∙ 14,778 acres, 0% contained
∙ Fire very active this afternoon
∙ 40-60 acre spot across ridge above Sierra Madre Road

Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 3:44 PM
Subject: La Brea Fire, Santa Barbara County – UPDATE

* Current acreage – 13,000 acres and 0% containment
* The fire is burning aggressively with two heads on it’s northern flank
* Orders for additional aircraft and 6 engine strike teams are being

The entire forest and wilderness area around the La Brea fire is closed. You can see the boundaries of the closure and the order here:

The fire is almost 15,000 acres now, and still growing, still no containment. We are probably in this one for the long haul.

Smoke is quite visible any where above the fog. Ashes falling in Morro Bay, and areas south.

My friend, firefighterblog has posted a wonderful photo essay of the Zaca Fire which was just a mere two years ago. Click on this link:

This one could easily be the Zaca Fire reincarnated. Zaca burned over 240.000 acres for two months. Smoke could be a way of life for us in the Central Coast, just as it has been for Alaska this summer, where over 2 MILLION acres have burned.

Big Sur quiet, La Brea continues

The Ponderosa Fire area is still closed, as of this morning. That means Nacimiento Rd is closed and the South Coast Ridge Rd. is closed. I have been informed that mop-up is pretty much finished, so I expect the roads to open soon.

What I can’t believe is that the smoke is this heavy from the La Brea Fire. I can only imagine how much worse it must be down south. I have scoured my sources to make sure there isn’t anything closer, but can find nothing to explain the smoke other than La Brea, one county south.

Inciweb had this to report this morning, and the press release issued at 9 am mirrors this inciweb post:

08/10/2009 @0600
The La Brea Fire, which started on Saturday, August 8 at 2:50 pm, continues to burn in an area of the San Rafael Wilderness that is very steep and difficult to reach on the ground.
Heavy 87 year old fuels (vegetation), long range spotting and moderate to rapid rates of spread have continued to hamper fire fighters in their efforts to contain the fire. Extreme fire behavior has been observed since the fire began. Flames from the fire could be seen on the Sierra Madre ridgeline from areas along SR-166 yesterday afternoon and evening. Last night fire behavior was moderate due to increased relative humidity and no major runs or spotting were observed.
The portion of the forest from the intersection of SR-166 and Sierra Madre Road east to McPherson Peak, south to the Sisquoc and west to the forest boundary is currently closed due to the fire emergency. Campgrounds in the area have been evacuated.

Basic Information
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Under Investigation
Date of Origin Saturday August 08th, 2009 approx 02:50 PM
Location 26 Miles east of Santa Maria
Incident Commander Jeanne Pincha – Tulley
Current Situation
Total Personnel 580
Size 10,500 acres
Fuels Involved
Chaparral (6 feet)
Fire Behavior
Fire behavior was moderate last night due to increased relative humidity. No major runs or spotting was observed.
Significant Events
A closure of the forest in and around the area of the fire is in place. Evacuations of hunters and campers in front of and adjacent to the fire were made.
Planned Actions
Continue direct attack on the southern and east perimeter of the fire. Crews will also continue constructing contingency lines outside of the wilderness.
Growth Potential
Terrain Difficulty
CIIMT Team-3 (Pincha-Tulley) assumed command of the fire this morning at 0600.