Sunday, July 20, 2008

Basin Fire- View from Hastings
      Threats to Hastings are now very much reduced. A new management team has taken over, and the word is that they know the web exists and unlike during the main fire, they are using the web. Apparently the USFS InciWeb page for the Basin Complex fire now opens and has content! Check it out for updates and official news. Another constant source for local information on the fire in the upper Carmel Valley continues to be the web presence of Life in the Fire Lane
   Things have calmed down. Structure protection engines were no longer needed on Hastings Thursday 7/17. Friday saw firing near Hastings with constant afternoon air traffic. The East Basin Spike Camp (a portable camp for 2000 fire fighters) is located about 1.5 mi. east of Hastings, stretching from Corral Viejo to Tassajara Road. The Carmel Valley Road cuts through the middle of Hastings, and is very busy with truck traffic. Supply trucks arrive often from King City and constantly from Monterey, crews  and engines move to and from the firing operations to the east, and helicopters and heavy bombers are overhead. Immediately after the spike camp was set up, we had contractors out sight seeing. This was a bit rude as most gates were open during the emergency. But that seems to have been controlled. Since then, afternoons have seen large plumes of smoke from the firing operations which have gone well to the south and east towards Arroyo Seco. Today, we saw more smoke from the work south and west of the Los Padres dam. Mail deliveries returned on Thursday as well. Dean, Margaret and Catherine have retuned, even if briefly, to clean up the Roberston House and continue with the bird observations. We expect to be back to relatively normal work on Monday. Aircraft activity stops near sunset, and the typical summer pattern of a westerly sea breeze and fog up the valley has returned.
    We continue under a "voluntary" evacuation, with a check point set up at Sleepy Hollow (mile 14 or so) on the Carmel Valley Road. Non-residents or people who are not working in the area are turned away. The various jurisdictions have had issues with passes and traffic control. Certainly the road between the spike camp and the firing operations (Piney Canyon, Miller Lodge, Arroyo Seco, etc.) needs traffic control. It has been a blessing not to have the whining rice-rocket motorcycles attempting speed records on the Carmel Valley Road through Hastings this year during the annual Moto GP, US Grand Prix motorcycle race at Laguna Seca Raceway. 
    We really appreciate the huge efforts our local fire fighters have made. Many have worked 15 hour days for weeks. The Cachagua Fire Protection District has been just fantastic. We all purchased commemorative shirts. In particular, we would like to thank our local Battalion Chief, Jaime del Valle (and Hastings steward) for his long hours and care and attention to Hastings during the fire. Eric Walters contributed many photos of the fire to the local weblog by Kelly Erin O'Brien  and was typically most helpful around Hastings. 
    The Basin Complex Fire will continue to require fire suppression efforts, but these are largely shifting away from Hastings. We will continue to be vigilant and keep in mind that historically, the big fires come in late fall. 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Basin Fire: View from Hastings 7/17
   Again, we have structure protection engines stationed at Hastings. These are the same crew from Los Angeles. They are driving from Tregea, through Hastings, including the Hallisey House. Firing was largely successful yesterday in the upper Anastasia Canyon and today they are burning nearer our boundaries (lower) adjacent to the Trout Pond and Carmel Valley Road. The back fire on the Arnold is complete, and Jaime reports that the dozer crews labored mightily on that last night. So, all is well on our western front. Today additional firing will continue south and east of Hastings along the Carmel Valley road between Hastings and the Cahoon summit. A dozer line then continues south and east toward Miller's Camp at Arroyo Seco. Additional fire fighting will be done along that front. To the west (south of Carmel Valley Village) the fire is moving slowly north to the primary bulldozer line that comes up from Los Padres Dam. So, we expect heavy smoke today and for quite a while, and reports on the fire fighting effort all appear positive. A huge camp (2000 people) has sprung up over night and extends from Corral Viejo to the Tassajara Road along Carmel  Valley road. This operation is fully illuminated at night. A gallery of images of the fire camp can be found here. 
     Here are some fire photos from Eric Walters and some by David Gubernick. Too bad David can't get out to photograph this epic fire. They would be spectacular.  Again, check in with "Life in the Fire Lane" for other views and news.  Photo above by David Gubernick. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fire Update: A view from Hastings

Basin Fire staff have provided engines for structure protection at Hastings during the firing operation July 15-17 adjacent to Hastings. Again, check the "Life in the Fire Lane" for new photos from Eric Walters, etc. from Hastings. The firing operation was slow (too wet) on 7/15 but is progressing well as of the morning, 7/16. Hastings has been evacuated, and we are offering the housing and conference room to the fire fighters. Eric Walter and family, Walt Koenig and Mark/Barb Stromberg have chosen to remain as mandatory evacuation continues.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Basin Fire
The Basin Fire is now one of the larger fires in the Ventana Wilderness of Monterey County. Still burning, at 121,800 ac., and $46.6M, it has exceeded the area of the 1999 Kirk Complex fire (85,000 ac.) will probably approach the size of the 1977 Marble Cone Fire (178,00 ac.). When combined with the 2008 Indians Fire (81,400 ac.) the overall complex is huge. Click here for larger view of map. 
Largely controlled on the western flank near Big Sur, it burned from Andrew Molera Park to the Big Creek Reserve (Dolan Ridge). This western boundary (Big Sur) has been contained and now the fire is burning along the north boundary.

A bulldozer line has been established along the north edge of the fire and should contain the fire. This line is close to the boundary of Hastings. Click here for a larger view of the map. 

Firing is being done (7/15/08) from the line to form a burned area into which the fire will slowly burn. Interior areas of the burn will smoke for months to come. As the fire approached the line along Chew's Ridge past the MIRA Observatory, near White Oaks Camp, some fire moved downslope past the bulldozer line into Anastasia Canyon. New bulldozer lines were put in place. These bulldozer lines can be as wide as a freeway, and considerable skill is needed by the equipment operators. Planning and implementation of remediation of these lines is underway. A large helicopter base has been established at the corner of Tassajara and Carmel Valley Road. Various strike teams of about 4 engines are roaming the area, ready to respond to any spot fires. Heavy slurry bombers are working from nearby airports to support fire fighters on the ground.
     Hastings has contributed to a blog that is updated several times a day: Life in the Fire Line. Eric Walters contributed very useful photos. Check it out. Also, our live hilltop remote-operated web camera has a pre-set option now aimed at the fire.