Sunday, July 6, 2008

Must reads...from Newspapers around the world. New additions 5:57pm

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Heartlessness hurts fire-weary residents - <==THIS IS A MUST READ.
(Thankyou Keith Harlan for sending us this link!!!)

Out of 78 comments on the article only 4 condemned their actions. What's your thought?
San Fran Chronicle

Life at Big Sur Fire: hard work, free fruit

Steve Rubenstein,Sabin Russell, Chronicle Staff Writers
Monday, July 7, 2008
(07-07) 04:00 PDT Big Sur -- They went through the last of the bananas Sunday and started in on the lettuce.
Hundreds of these stubborn holdouts - ordered days ago to leave this fire-scorched area - remain hunkered down on their properties, garden hoses at the ready.

Meanwhile, their perishables continue to perish.

"Today, it's bananas," said Kurt Mayer, proprietor of Big Sur Center Deli, hauling out a crate of 100 of them. "Everyone who comes in has to take a banana."
The only people coming into the deli are firefighters and other emergency workers. The closure of Highway 1 means no tourists, and the evacuation order means any resident who chooses to stay must remain on his property or face arrest. For most, that means no free bananas.

Firefighter Ron McCraner, who has been working for a week straight, took three bananas. He helped defend the deli two days earlier, when flames crept to the east side of Highway 1, just across the road, and embers were flying like fireflies. He figured he had earned more than one banana.

"The work is pretty tough, but rewarding," he said. "It's better than a desk job. You're helping to save wonderful things. And you are doing a job that makes your kids proud of you."

The deli, Mayer said, could go broke unless the road reopens - real soon. He said he's losing $6,000 a day.

"It's summer, you make all your money now, to tide you over through the winter," Mayer said. "This is serious."

Big Sur seemed to be from another planet. Through the smoke, the morning sun glowed redder than at sunset.

The world-famous highway, usually the domain of lumbering RVs and full of swivel-neck tourists, was deserted, save for water tankers, fire trucks and patrol cars.

Near the River Inn, on the northern edge of Big Sur's resort area, small patches of open flame burned unchecked a few feet from the east side of the highway. Elsewhere, blackened, charred plots of land checkered the landscape.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Basin Complex fires were only 11 percent contained as of Sunday. They have consumed a total of 74,985 acres and destroyed 22 homes. Nearly 1,800 structures and 22 commercial properties are still threatened.

At the Gap Fire near Santa Barbara, almost 2,900 homes and 228 commercial structures are threatened. The fire has burned 9,924 acres but has destroyed just four structures.

Statewide, Cal Fire reports that 597,910 acres have been scorched since the fire siege of 1,781 mostly lightning-sparked blazes began on June 20. As of Sunday, 1,451 of those fires had been contained, leaving 330 active wildfires throughout California.

More than 20,000 people have been deployed to fight fires throughout the state.

Monterey County spokeswoman Kathy Hilliker said firefighters hoped to use Sunday's favorable weather to prepare for hot weather and potentially strong winds from the east today.

"They are doing a lot of backfires and 'dozer roads up north and working hard on backfires at the south end," she said.
The worry here is that strong winds may accompany the next heat wave. "They keep talking about Sundowner winds. They come from the east, and are like the Santa Ana winds in Southern California. They are doing everything possible to be ready for it."

Hilliker said that the fire now does not pose a risk to the Carmel Valley, the posh and more highly populated region to the north of the blaze. "We have had a plan in place for days and days," she said. "The cost of the homes really has no relevance. We're trying to protect everything."

A mile south of the Big Sur Center Deli, chef Tod Williamson grabbed all the remaining strawberries in the walk-in refrigerator at the landmark Nepenthe Restaurant and boiled them all into syrup and jam. Earlier, he grilled the remaining shrimp and fish and tossed whatever was left over.

"It's the final purge," he said. "The only thing left is the lettuce. Forty-five cases."
Throughout the day, neighbors slipped in and out of the spectacular restaurant. Most came by way of trails through the brush - rather than risk being spotted on Highway 1 by a sheriff's deputy.

Longtime resident Ward Stephens took a break from garden hose duty at his home, a quarter of a mile north, and slipped through the woods. Nepenthe was serving complimentary lunch to its neighbors. "I have two cats, and a garden and a beautiful home," he said. "I'm getting cabin fever. But the only places that are being saved are the ones being watched by owners and caretakers."

Restaurant manager Tom Birmingham said Nepenthe was losing $60,000 a day.
He spent the past couple of days sweeping fire debris from the deck. The fallen ash has turned the celebrated patio into something that looks like the surface of the moon.

"It felt good to take it back from the fire," he said. "Even if we're not going to open right away, it doesn't hurt to get ready."

On Sunday afternoon, the fire's northern front line was centered at the end of Palo Colorado Road, about halfway between Big Sur and Monterey. There, firefighters were building a 10-mile-long firebreak to protect wooden cottages at the base of the road and the larger homes of Carmel Valley to the north.

At Bottcher's Gap, a staging area for the battlefield, exhausted crews in yellow suits lay sprawled on the side of the road trying to keep their legs away from passing fire engines and out of the poison oak. A pair of water tankers - a big one and a little one - met on the road. The big one delivered 2,000 gallons to the little one, to carry up to the fire lines.

Tanker driver Randy Pearson has been filling up water tankers and fire engines for two weeks straight. "I love the mountains, and I hate to see them burn," he said. "But fire season helps the wallet."

Nearby, at a lookout spot on Long Ridge, a group of anxious residents gazed with crossed fingers at the growing firebreak. "We all hope this works," said sculptor Keith Bispo, who lives down the road. "If it gets past this spot, we're screwed."

Bispo and his wife, Melissa, already have moved all their possessions from their home, including three dozen glass and bronze sculptures of eagles and wolves.

"We're living in this beautiful space on the whim of Mother Nature," he said. "She comes along like this every once in a while. It teaches you humility."

As of Sunday, 23 major wildfires were active in California. Counting smaller blazes, the number of active wildfires is 330. There have been 1,781 fires since June 20.

Damage: The fires have consumed about 598,000 acres and destroyed at least 40 homes. They are threatening 10,057 homes and 395 commercial buildings.

Response: Fires are being battled in 15 counties - a fight involving 19,232 people, 1,519 fire engines and 95 helicopters. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered training of 400 members of the California National Guard to reinforce firefighters.

Largest fire: The Basin Complex fires in Big Sur have burned more acres - 74,985 - than any other fire in the state.

For updates: For a map of fires around the state:

Other useful sites: and Source: Cal Fire

Steve Rubenstein reported from Big Sur and Sabin Russell from San Francisco. E-mail the writers at and

This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Web site builds community of those displaced by Big Sur fire
By Lisa M. Krieger
Mercury News
Article Launched: 07/06/2008 01:30:27 AM PDT

In the mayhem of the Big Sur fire, there are countless rumors. And there are official government statements - too little, too late.

Then there are bloggers Stan Russell and Steve Harper, posting quick updates of what they see from undisclosed locations within the smoky fire zone.

Lone voices in a vast wilderness, Russell and Harper send reports of shifting hot spots and havens to the dispersed Big Sur community via the Web site Webmaster Lisa Goettel - displaced by the evacuation and presumed homeless - manages the site from a table in a Carmel coffee shop.

As the fire grows, "we're trying to keep people informed," Russell said. By Saturday night, the fire claimed 71,285 acres and 22 homes. The largest water-scooping seaplane in the world, which holds 7,200 gallons, arrived Saturday night in Monterey from Canada.

"We're opening up the channel of communications," he said. "We saw a need to get quick and accurate information to people."

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Heather said...

More Articles,0,3314737.story,0,7181154.photogallery

ROCK ON BIG SUR and keep safe

Anonymous said...


"Life at Big Sur Fire: hard work, free fruit"

Monday, July 7, 2008

Anonymous said...

This is the correct link for the Curtis Family article in the La TIMES Today,0,722249.story

Anonymous said...

Let me try that a second is the link: