Sunday, July 06, 2008

Late night......

Alles glah.

It is a statement of your life when you look forward to four hour's sleep as a day off! Time to relax a minute....have a glass of champagne and some Fig Newman's! Tomorrow will only be 21 hours......

Everything is fine. We bailed our ex-cook, Dirk, out of jail in Lihue for terrorist threats......fending off four crackheads trying to steal his bike with a machete.....(as in soccer...the referee often only sees the last foul, not the first......) and sent him airfare to get off the island.

Dirk was my buddy tonight feeding the firefighters in Big Sur.

It was fine. We are based at El Sur Ranch, between Point Sur and Molera. I have learned to shut the fuck up in my support of Ross Curtis.

My client is seriously pissed off, and not at Ross Curtis.

All of the Forest Service work.....all the backfires being set in "the North Fork" and "South Fork" of the Little Sur River.......are being set on their property, against their wishes, and without their expertise and understanding of the terrain. They have only lived there for four generations and a hundred forty years, you see. The attitude seems to be from the Feds: "We know better, because we are from the Government. We need to burn your Ranch to save Carmel Valley and the Santa Lucia Preserve."

My guys have fire trucks, dozers, long-haul big rigs with giant water tanks still case. They have big diesel X-cab rigs with satellite phones. The garage of the manager's old house is filled with empty fire-retardant gel boxes, all properly broken down and stacked for recycle.....along with cases of back packs and nozzles for distrubiting the gel.

We worked in the old ranch house this must go back a hundred years. Old cowboy stove, with original old cowboy iron pans. Rafa would go nuts. There are probably fifty historic buildings like this on their property....hence all the gel. They are not just trying to save the trees and bushes.....they are trying to save their heritage.

They are maintaining a full time, plus overtime and double-time staff of professional firefighters, employing their own brand-new modern equipment......and hiring us to feed everyone three squares every day for weeks......just to try to protect their property from the past, current and continuing fuck-ups of the Forest Service.

All of the news you have heard about backfires....the extent of the fires in the watershed...the helicopters....the thousands of firefighters, sani-huts......tanker drops of chemicals.....are all taking place on their property, without their consent, consultation, expertise or consideration. And not once has anyone mentioned their names or mentioned their background contribution.

I won't be the first guy.......but in an era where we plaster the corporate wealthy fuckheads for being turns out that some of these old families have been good stewards of the land for generations and centuries.....and our current system runs roughshod over all of it. We have a mini-Katrina in terms of ethical, spiritual and physical affronts happening right now in Big Sur, Cachagua and Arroyo Seco.

Let us hope and pray that it stays ethical and spiritual.....hold the physical.

As Dirk and I pulled out tonight from the El Sur, and followed a big dozer truck north towards the mouth of the Little Sur......we were blown away by the apocalyptic vision of the clouds of fire that are feathered all over the El Sur highlands.

Dirk just flew in from Hawaii. I was born there, and some of my earliest memories are of a trip to the volcanoes on the Big Island.

Pele is the goddess of fire in Hawaii.

Pele is loose in Big Sur. This was a stunning display in the highlands of the El Sur Ranch.

Meanwhile, we wasted twenty minutes driving up to the top of Cachagua Grade to check on the Uncle Sam Mountain end of the fire.

There is a glow.....kind of.

Pucker up, Cachagua and Carmel Valley. You are weeks away from what is going on in Big Sur. Let us just say a prayer that the out of towners figure it out before they fuck it up.....if it is even possible for humans to influence Pele.

Check out the Big Sur folk for the same kind of take:

Editorial Comment

We’ve been putting off getting involved in the debate (taking place in the comment section at the bottom of this page and elsewhere) over the attitude of officials toward local residents. We expect there will be plenty of time to comment at length in the days to come. For now, we’re just going to say that here at Xasáuan Today we believe that one of the key privileges that comes with being an adult is the right to make one’s own decisions about the level of risk one is willing to accept. We also believe that we retain that right regardless of how others (including experts and government officials) feel about our decision. Unfortunately, this right is frequently under attack in an increasingly risk averse culture (there are even people who’ve told us we’re irresponsible to go into the wilderness without satellite phones and GPS units!).

Treating the people who defied the evacuation order as criminals (and we’re not just talking about people accused of using backfires to protect their homes) is, in our opinion, HIGHLY inappropriate. And the argument that this harassment is justified because these people might end up “getting in the way” is, frankly, pretty lame. If there’s room on the road for cops and media and others, there’s certainly room enough for a few local residents to use the road to come to each others’ aid or to travel to town for food and fuel.

…. just our opinion.

See our Fire Links Page with many additional sources of information on the fire. And see our new first person account - complete with photos - of the 1972 Molera Fire. The last fire to burn through the Big Sur valley.

The fire is expanding and so is our Photo Tour of Backcountry Areas Affected by the Fire. As the fire keeps growing, we’ll keep adding photos - so check in from time to time.

Click here to read an interesting article on the refusal of the federal government to declare the California fires a disaster.

And click here for L.A. Times photos from Apple Pie Ridge.

10:45PM July 6 Update:

Well here it is, photographic proof that fire is burning along the Skinner Ridge line:

We’ve also heard from our friends in Carmel Valley that the DC-10 made a spectacular drop over Uncle Sam Mountain this evening.

8:00PM July 6 Update:

Just like yesterday, the info officers passed out this morning’s, rather than this evening’s, USFS Fire Update. Incident Commander, Mike Dietrich, was back to leaving out place names while describing the day’s activity, but, fortunately, the Spanish language translator, who was standing next to him, could see where he was pointing on the map and when she translated his remarks into Spanish she added the place names back in. So, thanks in part to the translator, we learned quite a lot. Here are Dietrich’s main points:

* Today was a great day

* The backfiring from Molera to the Little Sur River along the Old Coast Rd. (which he said yesterday he hoped to complete by this morning) isn’t quite complete, but has been a huge success.

* Backfiring was begun today on Bixby Mtn. and is moving west along the Mescal Ridge fire line. They hope to reach the Old Coast Rd. by midnight (this makes you wonder what the hot spots were that MODIS placed on Skinner Ridge today).

* They are still putting out hot spots in Big Sur and they will start working on plans for “re-entry” of residents tomorrow - still no word on when “re-entry” might actually occur.

* All seven homes in Dolan Canyon are now safe, but they still haven’t completely sealed off the fire at the bottom of the Dolan Ridge line.

* The fire has been moving toward the northern fire line. That line has been dozed, but “prep work” still needs to be completed there. They will be hurrying to do this so that they are ready to backfire from that line before the fire gets there.

* Again he made no mention of the eastern portion of the fire, but when asked where the fire was in relation to Tassajara he said that the fire descending Tassajara Creek made only about a quarter mile of progress today. This means one of three things. That today’s huge run on the ridge to the south of Tassajara is a figment of MODIS’s imagination (unlikely); that Dietrich is unaware of this huge run (also unlikely); or that Dietrich is aware of it, but hasn’t realized that this fire is now at least as big a threat to Tassajara as the fire in Tassajara Creek (probably the answer).

Frank Pinney then said there was a serious flare up on Partington today, but that the Big Sur Fire Brigade put it out before any structures were damaged. In response to questions about the way residents are being treated by law enforcement, he said the problem is being worked on and that they may be able to come up with a better set of procedures for deputies to follow or a better understanding between the community and deputies (or something). “Tomorrow is another day,” was the key phrase.


Blogger kathy said...

You KNOW I love you to pieces - but even the slightest tiniest little negative diss of a firefighter or anything they're doing is going to ruffle my mommy feathers. They're doing everything they possibly can - government paid or privately paid. Firefighters are getting blamed for not reading maps correctly, for cutting fire roads, for not cutting fire roads, for standing around, for not standing around, for setting back fires and for not setting back fires. They’re working under the same few hours of sleep that you are (god/dess bless your soul for feeding them). They’re working under a slightly more difficult setting – hell hot fire with weather getting hotter while wearing 80 pounds of protective clothing WHILE trying to do the job that WE should have done – clearing a 100’ fire safe zone. So please give them a bit more of a break. Even if it’s their superiors that are making the decisions. They’re STILL doing the best that they can (even the government superiors). You don’t want to make me start blubbering now, do you?

10:32 AM  

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