Soberanes Fire Contractor faces 6 felony charges

From SFGate.comIMG_2398

A California contractor already facing possible state fines in the death of a bulldozer driver during last year’s massive Soberanes Fire along the Big Sur coast has been charged with six felonies related to alleged tax evasion and insurance fraud.
Ian Czirban, head of Czirban Concrete Construction of Madera County, was charged Friday in Monterey County with the criminal counts, said the district attorney’s Office. He was also charged with failing to provide employees workers’ compensation insurance, a misdemeanor.
Managing Deputy District Attorney Ed Hazel said an investigation began in October after the Contractor State License Board informed prosecutors that Czirban did not provide workers’ compensation insurance.
“If you have one form of fraud, it’s typical to have other forms of fraud going on as well,” Hazel said.

A new study reports that people have triggered five out of six wildfires in the U.S. over the last two decades, tripling the length of the wildfire season, causing it to start earlier in the East and last longer in the West. Even as climate change continues to negatively impact the country’s fire season, researchers say that human activities play the largest role.

Czirban has not been arrested but was ordered to appear at a May 11 arraignment, Hazel said. Czirban did not respond to a request for comment.

Sandbag Locations & Links

From MoCo Public Works:

Hi Kate,
In case you do not have this information. PW crews were coming today with second 1,000 sandbags. If you did not already have sandbag info links, they are below. All recently updated.


Public Works crews have delivered 2,000 sandbags for those in the Soberanes fire scar. Sandbags are located on Palo Colorado Road at the fire station, the Hoist and Botchers Gap and on Garrapatos Road at the Glen Deven ranch.
There are sandbag stockpile areas throughout the county for those in need.
Public Works Sand Stockpile locations:
Sandbag distribution list:

Upcoming Storm

I’ve already got rain here, despite contrary predictions. Nice that everything is wet, and more seemed to be coming as dawn arrived, before I got enshrouded in clouds, but the big story is the storm this Thursday and Friday.

From NOAA NWS: “The trends seem to indicate that the heaviest rains with the late
week system will be focused somewhere between the Santa Cruz mtns and Santa Barbara county putting the central coast (i.e. Big Sur) potentially in the bullseye for an incoming southwest flow system. The ecmwf has been pretty consistent with this solution for days
now and the latest 06z gfs is more or less in line. Given the trajectory of the incoming low would expect the heavier rains with the late week system for the southern portions of the district most notably the Santa Cruz mtns and Big Sur hills where 1-4 inches may occur with the late week system Thursday into early Friday.”

And from my SLO forecaster: “In Northern California, a slow moving cold front associated
with this trough of low pressure will push southward today spreading rain as far south as Monterey Bay by tonight, before stalling over Big Sur and dissipating on Tuesday.”

BAER Assessment

Los Padres National Forest
For Immediate Release
Contact: Andrew Madsen (805) 961-5759
Twitter: @LosPadresNF

Second BAER Team Assesses Soberanes Fire Impacts

GOLETA, CA, October 17, 2016…Los Padres National Forest officials announced that a second Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team was assembled on October 12 to begin a rapid seven-day assessment of the southern half of the Soberanes Fire burned area.
BAER is an emergency program aimed at managing imminent potential risks to human life and safety, property, or critical natural and cultural resources from post-wildfire damaging events. The BAER team determines the need for emergency treatments to minimize threats to life or property, and to stabilize and prevent unacceptable degradation to natural and cultural resources resulting from the effects of the fire.

While many wildfires cause little damage to the land and pose few threats to fish, wildlife and downstream communities, some fires create situations that require special efforts to mitigate post-fire impacts to natural resources and adjacent residents. The purpose of the BAER team is to assess and prevent damage from rain events on burned areas, not repair damage from either flames or flood after it occurs.

The BAER team’s role will be to assess watersheds on all lands, then inventory values at risk and determine the need for emergency measures and treatments on National Forest lands. The team will assess the watersheds for post-fire rain-related impacts such as potential flooding, debris flow, and increased soil erosion.

The U.S. Forest Service team includes the following specialists: wildlife biologists, archeologists, engineers, botanists, trails specialists, soil scientists, hydrologists, and recreation personnel.

The Soberanes Fire started on July 22 as a result of an illegal campfire and burned 132,127 acres. It was the biggest wildfire of the season in California and is currently 100 percent contained as of October 12. The fire burned on federal, state and private lands in Monterey County.
Jennifer Gray
Visitor Information Assistant
Public Affairs
Forest Service
Los Padres National Forest
Supervisor’s Office
p: 805-961-5795

From LPNF Supervisor

“This evening (this was sent late last night), the Soberanes Wildfire was reported at 100% containment, with a total size of 132,127 acres, and 83 days in duration.

I wanted to extend my thanks to all the firefighters, incident management teams, partners, cooperators and the public for the cooperation and teamwork with the Los Padres Forest Staff to collectively bring this exceptionally challenging wildfire to full containment.

The public should be aware that smoldering areas will continue to put up smoke, but are well within the fire perimeter. This will continue until a season-ending rain event occurs. A cooling and moistening trend is expected this week with a high probability of rain over the weekend.

Work continues on suppression repair, approximately 297 out of 384 miles repaired, and BAER efforts for the remainder of the fire area are planned. Attached are the PIO, Operations, and Progression Maps for your reference. (I have not included them)

Fire camps at Molera, Rana, and Toro are scheduled for breakdown and relocation to a consolidated camp at the fairgrounds in King City.

The Monterey Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest remains closed to public access. The only recreation sites that remain open are Plaskett Creek and Kirk Creek Campgrounds, Pfeiffer Beach, Sand Dollar Beach and Willow Creek Day Use areas. All trails are closed within the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas.

We will continue to put “life first”, make sound risk based decisions, and evaluate exposures and risk in Suppression Repair and BAER as we have in suppression operations.

For more information, visit: or follow us at or

Thanks for all the continued support,

Robert Baird
Forest Supervisor
Forest Service
Los Padres National Forest”

Soberanes is 100% contained

Finally! The forest is still closed, and the burned areas will likely remain closed all winter,  if history is any indication, as it is too dangerous with slides, debris flows, and falling trees. The land and the critters need time to heal. Please allow them to do so. This was day 83.

Season ending rains later this week?

As Paul H. Commented on yesterday’s post (please read), we have the potential of a storm with significant consequences heading this way. Here is what NOAA and the NWS had to say today:

“A more significant pattern change is expected to begin Thursday as a broad upper level trough approaches the region. This system is progged to tap into a plume of moisture over the Pacific with precipitable water values in excess of 1.5 inches. As this system approaches it will bring precipitation into northern Sonoma county Thursday afternoon and evening. While models have fallen into agreement on this there is still some disagreement with the timing and intensity of the rainfall for Friday. The Euro (ECMWF) is the more aggressive of the two models and brings rain as far south as the Monterey Bay Thursday night while the GFS keep rain changes north of the Golden Gate. The GFS appears to catch up to the Euro Friday night as it pushes the main rain band through the region. The Euro however remains the wetter of the two solutions.

Periods of moderate to locally heavy rain is anticipated Friday across the region. Heaviest precipitation is expected across the North Bay. Models indicate there will likely be a break the rain (GFS) or hit and miss showers (Euro) Saturday on the back side of the main frontal band. However a second round of showers is expected Sunday as the second boundary moves across the region. With a moist atmosphere in place the second boundary will have no trouble spreading widespread precipitation across the region. Rain is expected across the forecast area and will likely bring the season ending rains that the fires burning across the region have been waiting for.”


Soberanes Fire Update, 10/8/16

Yesterday, Friday, I reported on FB that the Soberanes Fire had kicked up a bit on the interior portion. I could see the smoke from my place – no column, but smoke. So today’s inciweb reports this:

“A flare up occurred yesterday on the fire near Marble Peak, but was well within the burn perimeter. Today, a Hot Shot crew will make their way through the burned area to reach the hot spot to cool it down. Smoke might be visible from nearby communities, but rest assured that this hot spot is well within the burned area.
Efforts to remove the water tender yesterday were unsuccessful, towing equipment wasn’t capable and other equipment wasn’t available. Diesel fuel was successfully extracted from the fuel tanks, and nearby brush was cut back to allow easier extraction of the vehicle. Plans are put in place to remove the water tender when equipment becomes available.
Hot spots along the North Fork Big Sur Creek, north of Ventana Cone, and east of Church Ranch are trouble spots for fire managers. These areas are not accessible to firefighters on the ground due to steep and rocky terrain. It is not likely that fire will spread out of these areas due to a lack of continuous fuel bed, cooler overnight temperatures, and higher overnight humidities. Winds could be a problem if a hot spot were to reach a containment line, fire managers will continue to monitor conditions.”

Containment is still at 98% on Day 79.

Soberanes Fire, Day 70, 9/29/16

There is a flair up on Mt. Manuel today, which resulted in the following story and photo:

“Just a kinda funny story. I was in my kayak in pond today around 11:30am. I was tying rope to broken willow trees on the island and then to tractor to pull them out. This was some of the minor damage done from the 6 weeks of dipping during the fire. It’s been around 10 days since the last air operation here so I was surprised when all of a sudden sitting on my kayak in middle of pond I heard a helicopter. Before I knew it I got a visual of a Sikorsky heading my way. I scrambled to get out of pond and move tractor, tools, kayak, etc.

They have been dipping ever since making short trips northeast of here. I’m assuming hitting a flare up in the black?

Thanks again,

Marcus Foster
(Rancho Grande)”

As the fire winds down, transitions to a Type 2 IMT today, is over the 90% threshold for containment, so does my coverage of this fire begin to wind down.

Here is John Chesnut’s map:


Basic Information

Current as of September 29, 2016 at 7:19:54 AM PDT
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Illegal Campfire
Date of Origin Friday July 22nd, 2016 approx. 08:45 AM
Location Soberanes Creek, Garrapata State Park, Palo Colorado/Big Sur, & Ventana Wilderness.
Incident Commander Rocky W. Opliger, USFS, California Interagency Incident Management Team 4.
Incident Description Wildland Fire
Current Situation
Total Personnel 1,462
Size 129,395 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained 92%
Estimated Containment Date Saturday October 15th, 2016 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved
Chaparral, tall grass and timber
Significant Events
Minimal fire activity overnight due to a deep marine layer and high humidity. Interior smoke production and fire activity may be possible do
to the drought stricken fuels, even in areas that have been dormant for weeks.
Planned Actions
The North side of the fire continues to be in patrol status.
On the East side of the fire, suppression efforts are being focused on the interior around the Church Creek drainage area, to cut off possible fire growth. Infrared is being utilized to detect heat. Air resources are also being utilized to strengthen containment and treat hot spots on the south side of the Church Creek drainage area with retardant and water drops. Crews are being inserted around the areas that need hot spotting and cold trailing.
Suppression repair plans on the east side of the fire are being implemented.
On the west side of the fire, a more direct attack tactics are being implemented. Crews are being inserted into those areas conducting hot-spotting and cold trailing operations.
A substantial suppression repair effort continues to be a high priority for resources on the west end of the fire.
Projected Incident Activity
Predicted lower temperatures and RH associated with the arrival of a deep marine layer will assist in control efforts. Fire behavior is expected to be moderated under the influence of these conditions.
Transition to Central Coast Incident Management Team – Type II, will occur on 9/29/16 at 0800.
Projected final footprint of the fire has been reestablished. Due to the expected consumption of green islands within the interior of the fire, final projected acreage has increased. All acres are accounted for that lie with the containment lines, burned or unburned.
Current Weather
Weather Concerns
Temperatures near active fire area: 55-60 except 70 around the thermal belt.
Relative Humidity near active fire area: 15 to 20% ridges…30 to 45% valleys.
Winds near active fire area:
Valleys: becoming downslope/downvalley 3-5 mph gusts 8 mph.
Mid/Upper Slopes: NW 10 to 15 mph with gusts to 20 mph becoming SW 5-10 mph with
gusts to 15 mph overnight.
Outlook for Today:
Temperatures near active fire area: 80-90
Relative Humidity near active fire area: 11-18%
Winds near active fire area:
Valleys: Upslope/upvalley 5-10 mph gusts 15-20 mph by midday.
Mid/Upper Slopes: SW 5-10 mph gusts
USFS Shield
Los Padres National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
6750 Navigator Way
Suite 150
Goleta, CA 93117
Fire Information Line
Phone: 831 204-0446
Hours: 6:00 AM -10:00 PM
Soberanes Fire Daily Update for September 28
News – 21 hrs. ago
Soberanes Fire Daily Update for September 27
News – 2 days ago
Evacuation Warning for Arroyo Seco Area Lifted
Announcement – 3 days ago
Sorberanes Fire Daily Update for September 26
News – 3 days ago
If you Fly, We Can’t
One Less Spark
Ready for Wildfire
Ready,Set, Go
Center for Disease Control – Smoke Management Tips
Monterey County Reverse 911 Signup
Wildland Fire Terminology Glossary
Air Quality Index for California
Los Padres National Forest
Temporary Flight Restriction
Firefighting Aircraft Recognition Guide
SPCA Monterey County
CPOA – Coast Property Owners Association Big Sur
The Community Foundation for Monterey County
Bureau of Land Management
American Red Cross
Big Sur Land Trust
Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade
Cachagua Fire Protection District
California Conservation Corps
California Department of Fish And Wildlife
California Department of Parks & Recreation
California Department Of Transportation
California Highway Patrol
California State Office of Emergency Services
Carmel Highlands Fire Protection District
County of Monterey
Mid-Coast Fire Brigade
Monterey Bay Air Resource District
Monterey County Regional Fire Protection District
Pacific Gas and Electric
United Way
Twitter Feed
Article RSS Feed
Google Earth Network Feed
help »
Incident Related Links

Soberanes Fire, Day 69, 9/28/16

Current Size: 128,595 acres (91,401 acres Los Padres National Forest; 37,194 acres CAL FIRE)
Containment: 89% Personnel: 1,833

John Chesnut Map:


I haven’t been able to get the IR Topo map, yet, but here is the Briefing Map, to start …

And now, the IR Topo:


IR Topo Map in PDF



Briefing Map in PDF

Fire Behavior and Weather Predictions Discussions: