The Chalk fire was listed as 100% contained on October 29th and on October 30th, it started raining. From then until November 3 we received 2.16 inches at Highlands Peak. So we are happy to know that the fires shall not flare up again. Below is a map that shows the final perimeters of the three fires that burned in the Los Padres National Forest near Big Creek this summer. You can see that Big Creek and Vicente Creek watersheds are the only unburned watersheds between the Little Sur River and Mill Creek. As a result, we are set up to be sort of a “control” for studies that focus on the impact of fire on the landscape and runoff in the creeks. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is already organizing water sampling along the coast to capture what happens during and after rainfall. We shall be keeping an eye out for their results.
Three helicopters are looping to the ocean and back up to the fire. They are coming down over Highlands Ridge, right over my house in the canyon and picking up water at Oystercatcher Pt, Potter’s beach and Gamboa Pt. Then flying up Vicente Canyon. They come over about every 8-10 minutes.
Inciweb is reporting they have clearance to extend the dozer line up past their medivac site (on map below) and put a hand line to Twin Peak. Today’s map shows them as proposed lines. I am going up there now to see what I can see.
This afternoon I watched the crews and helicopters put out the slop overs that entered the very top of Vicente Creek from the fire break. Bulldozers continued uphill though. Lots of smoke and active burning close to the fuel break. Also watched aircraft lay down retardant on “Gamboa Ridge”.
Here’s what it looked like. Pretty ominous.
This morning, October 22, the backfire from the bottom of West fork Limekiln ran up the north side of the foot of the ridge separating it from Limekiln Creek. From Sand Dollar I witnessed 200 foot flames and a 5000 foot swirling smoke column.
Today I looked again over Vicente Creek from the top of the Reserve and it was nearly clear. Helicopters seemed to be putting out hot spots in the interior within the bowl of west fork limekiln creek. I could see all the way to Twin Peak and did not witness any rising smoke along the ridge.
Looking good. Thank you firefighters!
New perimeter map for Oct. 22 morning.
Well, I went down to Santa Barbara to get married and in the meantime the Chalk Fire flared up and is now really, really knocking on our doorstep. It is really repeating the pattern of the 1999 Kirk Fire now. Apparently, somewhere around the 15th or 16th the fire crossed Hare Canyon and by the 17th had moved into the upper watershed of the north fork of Limekiln Creek. They are now trying to hold the fire along the ridge from Cone Peak to Twin Peak, west along that ridge to Ojito, south to the Big Oak along the Gamboa Trail and then down the old Pine Ridge Trail to connect to the dozer line they have put just east of the Hermitage, off their road. They have been firing off the Hermitage break east toward the approaching fire from Limekiln and that seems to be going well. You can see the backfire on this perimeter map, along the dozer line above the hermitage, separate from the main fire and moving toward it.
The tricky part is moving above there and tying it in to Twin Peak. From Highlands Peak and the Canogas trailhead on the Reserve, Gage has been checking the ridge surrounding Vicente Creek since Saturday and Jen and I checked today.
Here is a picture taken from the road just past Canogas trailhead.
Still no fire on our side but that window is wide open. We could see a bulldozer working next to that big tree on the ridge in the center of the photo. The story is that they were going to use the helitorch to put a black line along the other side of that ridgeline and back it up with helicopter support. We saw a helicopter flying up and down Vicente Canyon, dumping water just over the ridge and could see black smoke billowing up at a pretty fast rate. We were expecting flames to show up any minute. Gage has been seeing that also for the last 2 days so they seem to be slowing it down. As I type at 6pm there is a helicopter picking up water just off the mouth of Big Creek.
So it’s not here yet but I will be watching it daily to see if they hold it.
By the way, Big Sur Kate has good photos from her house on the opposite side of this fire. Check her blog out at http://bigsurkate.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/chalk-update-101908/
Here’s what the USFS is reporting today. Looks like they can’t get in to the remaining burning areas. But those are burning slowly and not progressing.The remainder of the uncontained fire perimeter is in inaccessible terrain (100% slope) and is not safe for firefighters to work. The fire area is being flown daily with infrared to detect activity. There has been no fire movement reported for several days. Significant demobilization of resources is planned for October 11. Inciweb will be updated on October 11, at approximately 6:00pm.
Here is the latest fire perimeter map as well.
Even though there are high winds predicted for the next couple of days, the USFS is saying that the fire will stay put. It’s up to 84% now with 100% containment predicted by Oct. 17. Pretty much everyone around here is figuring that it’s over. The crews are starting to do fire break rehabilitation, something that usually does not start until full containment is reached. Here is a perimeter map from yesterday, the 9th. Comparing it to Oct. 7th shows the line southwest of Cone Peak improving, as well as the line on the southeast corner. The line in the northeast section doesn’t seem to have improved yet.