See photo page for pictures of the fire and firefighting.
See maps page for maps of the Orr-Series, the Horse, and the Jack Smith fires.
Final (I hope) Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-14 at 11pm)
I was thinking of continuing these emails forever, but I foresee dwindling interest:
Tuesday: No news today Wednesday: No news today Thursday: No news today
At least, I hope that is the way it would go!
Although there is still some smoke from small fires in Montgomery Woods, the risk to us is low. Of course, Cal Fire will continue to be here (and I will continue to take them morning coffee and O.J.), but they are feel confident that this fire is done being a threat. In the immortal words of our great IC, Brian Kornegay "By Jove, I think we got it!"
If anything changes or there is something you need to know, I will send another email.
Many thanks to all of you for your kind words about these emails. It has been a ride that I won't forget soon!
Most of all, thanks to the fire fighters from Cal Fire and around the country (and Canada!) that worked so hard to keep us safe.
P.S. I finally put the recipe for Leslie's wonderful scones up here.
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-13 at 6pm)
No news. Really.
There are 5 engines up here mopping up, but no sign of smoke in this end of Montgomery Woods, no fires we can see, no news.
There are a bunch of new pictures up on the website here, including some very good pictures Jimmy Booth took on the day we had big flames on our hillside. Now that the danger appears past, I felt better about putting the pictures up:
The pictures are in chronological order now, so the newest pictures are last. It was too confusing going backwards with all the new pictures...
Best to all,
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-12 at 2:15pm)
Although I didn't get any official report on the fire today (Brian Kornegay, our Incident Commander is finally taking a day off after something like 30 days on), I went up the hill to look down into Montgomery Woods and talked with the crew of one fire engine up on the ridge.
There is no smoke, no fire, no activity. Looking into Montgomery Woods from this Southern vantage point, you would think the fire was completely out. There are 4 or 5 engines keeping watch over the fire today, but none of them have found anything to worry about.
At the morning briefing a few days ago, Brian said that he didn't want to leave until this fire was put to bed. He wanted the crews who came after him to have only a little cleanup work to do. Who would have thought that day would come so soon!
I know the fire isn't really out yet, and the fire fighters were quick to remind me that it will be a while before we are out of danger. Nevertheless, after a night of cool, damp air and a day without any firefighting activity at all, I feel like we are in a new place.
Best to all,
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-11 at 11am)
What a wonderful night we had. For the first night, we didn't hear a tree fall or see a fire (or even glowing embers) on our hillside. The air was clear and cool enough so that we had our windows open all night! A miracle of a night for us. This morning there is one engine on our place, no helicopters, no planes, and no chainsaws. I can almost remember what this place is really like. Most of the work today is on the North-West side of the fire where there is lots more cleanup work to do.
This morning at the briefing there was a much smaller crowd, and the mood continued to be upbeat. There was discussion of ongoing risk and possible problems, but with the weather cooling and the fire receding, these were clearly in the "unlikely" category.
Plenty of sad news about other fires that are still burning free, and a couple new fires that have just broken out of their containment lines, so we are actually very fortunate for Cal Fire's success in fighting our fire.
Unless something changes, I will only be sending one update a day (let's hope it sticks this time!).
Have a wonderful day,
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-10 at 7:30pm)
No news tonight (ahh..., doesn't that have a nice ring to it?). The crews were here all day putting out small "smokes" and "snags" and felling dead trees that were too close to the fire break lines. It was wonderful to see them focusing on cleaning things up again, and not on fighting new incursions of fire. I did not see the IC tonight, so I don't have the real story on where things stand, but the view from our house is very calm.
Brian Kornegay did come by earlier in the day and wanted to be sure that everyone knew that Cal Fire will be here through the end, working to make sure that the fire does not become a threat again. That could be quite a while, even several months. He is aware that this is a mixed blessing -- we all want to be protected, but we are also ready to get back to a quieter life!
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-10 at 11:30am)
I know this has been a real roller-coaster, with every day bringing a new surprise (sometimes good and sometimes bad). The surprise for today is that even with the hot and dry weather forecast, the feeling among the crew is that they have turned the corner on this fire. The mood at the briefing this morning was almost jubilant.
As we have all learned, things can change quickly, and to quote the IC, "We are certainly not out of the woods." Nevertheless, it was great to see all the smiles and excitement at the success they had keeping the fire contained, even when it flared up so badly. They are keeping all the manpower here today, mostly to clean up and keep watch. If we can get a little help from Mother Nature bringing some cool and foggy weather, I think that we may be getting to the end of the scary part of this ride.
On a personal note, I was touched this morning, because Cal Fire printed up a special version of the IAP (that's Incident Action Plan for those of you who aren't living their 20th day with fire). In it they list the leaders for all of the most important teams on the fire. There, just under Brian Kornegay and Ken Margiott was the "Coffee Unit Leader" Rod March. These are very nice folks!
Keep up the good thoughts for today,
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-9 at 6:45pm)
Today all of the fire crews were worried that we might have a repeat of yesterday, but we managed to make it successfully through a very difficult day. Every time I saw smoke on our ridge or coming over the top, it seemed like there were two helicopters or ground crews on it before I turned around. The Office of Emergency Services got their big street-designed fire engines into our hillsides like ATV's. Dozers came back and cut a path to a spot above our lower cabin (still in the "black") where the helicopters couldn't seem to put the fire out. I could hear chainsaws all day on the hillside as they cleared dangerous trees.
We have survived another very hot, low humidity day without the fire making it across the break. For two days Mother Nature has not cooperated, and still they have been able to keep this now angry fire back. It is partly due to their fast and hard work now, but also a direct result of the preparation they did beginning just after the fire started. Everywhere you look, the strategy they took to cut the fire off has worked. I could wax poetic about all the ways their work helped from removing fuel to enabling access to..., but enough said. We have been very fortunate in our crew!
More hot, dry weather coming, and we have to be prepared for the same risks tomorrow that we faced today.
I plan on keeping our car loaded for a quick exit, but so far so good.
A good article and video in the Santa Rosa paper today about the Orr/Montgomery Woods fire. The reporter, photographer, and cameraman were at Brian Kornegay's morning briefing in the Montgomery Woods Grove yesterday and I brought them up to the Durfee's driveway for their helicopter photos.
Here is the article and the accompanying video.
I loved the analogy to the movie Groundhog Day. It is exactly how I feel every day the alarm goes off and we start reliving the same day one more time.
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-9 at 11am)
Important question: Do you have (or know of) additional water sources on the ranch? We have many new engines up here, and they are hoping to find new water, especially tanks with hydrants. Please let me know of any you have or know of, and I will provide a list. Please include:
1. exact location and description of water source
2. size of tank or pond
3. access instructions and ease of access (can a fire engine get there? helicopter?)
4. means of getting water out (hydrant, fitting size, siphon, open tank?)
Thanks. Below is the update on our situation.
I just got back from the morning briefing, and here is the news for today. Yesterday's burn at the top of our ridge was a matter of grave concern for the firefighters. They were alert to the fact that it could have jumped over the fire break. Today, conditions are slightly worse than they were yesterday -- today is a "red flag" day for heat and low humidity. These conditions make the fire more violent and less predictable.
Two other fires in Mendocino County (not the Orr-Series/Montgomery Woods or the Jack Smith/Singley fires) broke through their containment lines yesterday and burned out of control. We need to be aware that even the best efforts of the dedicated crew that is here may not be able to prevent this here.
Our fire is not threatening the containment line at this moment, but there are many areas that are burning in the Woods and some areas that are burning in the controlled back-burn areas.
Today there are 6 Office of Emergency Services crews here, and part of their job is to be prepared for a speedy evacuation, should the fire get to the other side of the containment lines.
If you remember, last time they asked us to leave the conditions were very mild, so we had hours to think about it and prepare. In this weather, we may not have that advantage.
Please take the advice of the IC and be prepared. I have listened to Cal Fire describe this many times, so here is what they say:
1. If you haven't already done so, do what you can now to clear a defensible space around your home.
2. Be ready to evacuate your family and animals. Have a plan and know where everyone is.
3. Know and practice alternate routes out. If you haven't already, find the way back to Masonite Road and be ready to go that way if the fire blocks Running Springs Road. This is particularly important for people at the back of the ranch.
4. Have your driveways and homes clearly marked, including your address marker and anything else that is not obvious: locations of people, animals, and building that are not easily visible.
5. Have any important possessions off the ranch or loaded to go. If you go to town during the day, take things with you.
6. Listen to the fire fighters, the Office of Emergency Services, or the Sheriff when it is time to go. Every person who does not leave quickly makes their job harder.
Please be prepared! There is no immediate danger, but things can change quickly. Weather conditions are supposed to stay this dangerous for at least a couple of days, so please do not get complacent.
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-8 at 8pm)
Thanks to constant and accurate efforts by the helicopter crews, Cal Fire was able to push the fire back off of the ridge. Bill and Mary Ann Peter can give you a better description of the fire on the ridge, because they went up where they could see it burning on the other side.
Cal Fire and all the crews took this incursion very seriously and responded quickly. They brought equipment to fight the fire, people to keep an eye on the fire, people to watch for embers flying over to the "green" on this side of the fire, and they quickly prepared a team to get out to all the addresses on the road if need be.
I don't know what to tell you about what the future will hold. With at least two days of hot, dry weather ahead, the fire becomes very difficult to control or predict. Even now, as I started a moment ago to write that it was quieter on the ridge, a firefighter came up to warn us that a new section of fire flared up the other side and a couple of places on our side (all in the "black"). They said to expect to see fires burning on the ridge tonight.
I asked Brian Kornegay, the Incident Commander what to tell you, and he said that what happens for the next couple of days will depend on the weather. Cal Fire is as prepared as they can be, but with this weather pattern, things can change quickly.
He suggests you should:
1) be ready to leave
2) be sure to have your address clearly marked so they can get to you if they need to
Cal Fire is here in force tonight and will be back tomorrow. They know this is an unpredictable fire and they still want to keep if from breaking out of the containment perimeter they have worked so hard to create.
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-8 at 3:30pm)
Bad news today -- what a difference heat and wind make. The fire has come back up Montgomery Woods with a vengeance. It has burned up from the valley to the hillside all the way up to our ridge and is burning right now in the beautiful grove of oaks where many of you stood to look out to the ocean (or at least the fog). You can see the flames from our front walk as trees burn. I am told the oaks will survive, and I hope that is true.
The fire is still on the "black" side of the fire break containment line, so we are told there is no immediate danger. We have a dozen firefighters on our place now in the "green" watching for falling embers. There are two helicopters hitting our ridge, and they are calling in air tankers. I greatly appreciate all the activity and tireless work of the fire crews, but it is not a happy sight.
This is the test that Cal Fire has been warning us about and preparing for. For a week they have been doing back burns (like the 80 acres on our place) to set up a containment edge. The entire fire is ringed with black and fire breaks, and today the fire is pushing hard against that containment. Of course, we all hoped it would burn itself out without testing that edge, but Mother Nature did not continue to cooperate.
Sadly, it is time to be prepared to leave the ranch again. I wouldn't mind if the roller-coaster would stop.
Best to all,
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-7 at 11:00pm)
It is HOT and smoky tonight. It is 11:00pm, and it is still 85 degrees outside! Although this hot, dry weather makes it harder to control fires, our lack of wind is still allowing the firefighters to make headway in containing this fire.
Firefighting activity today was much like yesterday -- a few crews on Running Springs Road (or in driveways) keeping an eye out and going down into hot spots to clean up. 6 large crews and about 25 other firefighters on foot at the other end of the Montgomery Woods to continue cleaning up the burns they did over the last few days.
They expect similar activity tomorrow. Thankfully, not much news again today!
I actually went into town today, and one very funny thing happened when I got up to speed on the freeway in our car. As you may know, Shirlie and I have logged many miles up and down Running Springs Road and our driveway, and even on the newly created fire-break "roads" taking coffee and snacks to the firefighters. During that time, the car picked up more and more dusty dirt in every crack and joint. When I hit freeway speed, the car released a plume of dust that made the cars behind me momentarily disappear. When they came back into view, they were quite a bit further behind me. I guess it was kind of a surprise to them, too :-).
As promised, the rest of this email contains a few notes from the Greenfield Ranch meeting with Cal Fire.
My favorite moment was after Cal fire finished their presentation and answered questions. Before they could leave, they received a standing ovation from the large crowd of Greenfield residents. It was difficult to quiet the residents as they gave thanks to all the work that Cal Fire has done. The applause seemed fully deserved!
A couple things that I thought were useful:
Status of the fires in Mendocino County The fire chief said that ALL of the fires that were currently burning in Mendocino County could become dangerous if weather conditions worsened. He explained that the progress to date containing these fires has been dependent on the mild weather.
When to call 911 - For any fire that is outside the perimeters of the fires. - For any fire that threatens to break out of the perimeters. They acknowledged that this may be difficult, but do the best you can.
Restoration and damager repair After the fire is over, they will repair damage done by the fire crews (not fire damage). This includes things like broken culverts and smashed fences. They thought it would be a good idea for each community to create a list of things that need to be repaired. There will also be a forester to help with erosion control issues.
Suggested improvements in neighborhood preparation - consistent and clear signage for roads, ponds, etc. - maps with driveways, parcels, names, and water sources
Firefighting training Cal Fire does offer training for volunteer firefighting efforts. Running Springs Ranch and Greenfield Ranch could coordinate that training.
P.S. an article in the NY Times today about volunteer firefighters in Mendocino County: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/07/us/07firefighters.html
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-6 at 9:45pm)
The fire crews continue to fight the fire on both the North and South sides of Montgomery Woods. Thanks to all the helicopter runs into the South end, we have much less smoke pouring over our ridge tonight.
I went to a meeting at Greenfield Ranch today where representatives of Cal Fire talked about what to expect looking forward. Tomorrow, I will write up more notes from that meeting, but the most important thing they said about the status of the fire is this:
Most of the fires in Mendocino County are now at least partially contained. They made the same distinction between contained (where there is a perimeter around an active fire) and controlled (where the fire itself is under control), and he said that any of the fires in the County could still flare up and get out of their containment if our weather stops cooperating.
Meanwhile, I have posted new pictures at www.glenmaple.com/fire
Good night to all,
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-5 at 8:45pm)
Right after sending out the last message, we got some new information, and I wanted to share the good news. Today, several crews did a harrowing burn on the North-Western tip of the fire. They burned hundreds of acres along a 1.6 mile line. The new recruits that we met at the 4th of July picnic are getting a quick introduction to very serious firefighting.
The burn went extremely well, and it creates a defensible line in the area by Lisa Weger's place, where the fire has been so destructive and difficult to control.
According to "high sources" within Cal Fire, they may now be able to call the fire contained! If they make it official tomorrow, this means that it is contained inside a defensible perimeter. It does not mean that it is controlled, and Mother Nature could still throw us a dangerous curve-ball, but fully contained is a vital and exciting step in the right direction.
Congratulations to the crews who worked so long and hard today to give us a defensive line on the last long open area where this fire could have gotten out.
Lots of ground to cover yet, but this is excellent news.
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-5 at 7:45pm)
It has been very noisy today! Helicopters have been hitting the fire all day down in Montgomery Woods. Tonight, they have been working just over our ridge on the fire that is coming up the other side of our ridge (in the valley below Durfee's). There has been lots of fire down there all day, with large, close plumes of smoke coming up over the hill.
Both crews that were stationed up here during the day were watching it and described it as "just what they were hoping for." They want the fire to burn out the "fuel" that is on the West side of our ridge so that it gets harder and harder for it to come over the side.
Because of the burn on our place and the one that goes along the North side of Running Springs beyond us, they don't think it will burn onto the rest of the ranch.
It is certainly nerve-wracking, seeing all that fire and smoke right on the other side of our ridge, but the firefighters are still pleased with how things are progressing. Barring some new surprises from Mother Nature, things are going well.
Good evening to all,
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-4 at 11pm)
Happy 4th of July!
We spent our 4th serving up a picnic on our patio for 50 or 60 firefighters who have been kind enough to be away from their families to fight a fire to protect the homes of strangers. Quite a crew!
Nothing much to report from the fire. The firefighters continue to work hard on hot, smoky, steep hillsides cleaning up after the wildfires and the controlled burns around us. I hope the next few days bring the same news and then this fire will be controlled and after that it will be out.
Several neighbors have been concerned about the fires that are still burning on our ridge (both on our side and on the Montgomery Woods side). Although those fires are unnerving, so far they have all been in the "black" area that was either burned by wildfire earlier or during the controlled burn that went from our pond down to the Weger's and on to Orr Springs Road.
All day the firefighters watched the burning and the smoke at our ridge from many different vantage points and they were not concerned, because all of the fire and smoke was coming from this blackened area.
Of course, if you are concerned or uncertain if something you see is in the black area or somewhere else, the best thing is to call 911.
I am mostly happy there is so little to report,
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-3 at 9:20pm)
Everything is still looking good. The wind picked up today and cleared the air without creating any new problems. The clear views meant that the helicopter crews could make pinpoint runs into Montgomery Woods all day. Now that we can see a little further, it is startling to see all the fires close by and in the distance, but the firefighters continue to believe that they are making good progress.
While Brian Kornegay was filling us in on the plans for the day, he looked into the hills and saw a puff of smoke from the little fire on the knob under Peter's (it just refuses to go out). They dropped a few buckets from the helicopter and again helicopter-dropped a crew in to clean it up. A good reminder that we should still be on the lookout for fires that are in areas where they shouldn't be.
Unless there is something important to report, I don't expect to do an update in the morning.
Also, several people have mentioned the Greenfield Ranch Fire Info Blog as a good source of fire information. Although it focuses on Greenfield Ranch, it has lots of information. Since it is a real blog (not just a website, like mine), there is always interesting and thoughtful commentary from lots of sources. Here is the address: http://mendofire.blogspot.com/ .
Best to all,
P.S. Once again, we have repaired our phone line hope we get more than 15 hours of use out of it this time!
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-3 at 11am)
No dramatic news this morning (what a relief). They still have lots of equipment in here, and they are flying every few minutes to drop water into Montgomery Woods. The controlled burn on our place is still burning pretty strong in spots. Today they are going to try to get 100' in, but it will be a while until it is out. Fortunately, it is not a big smoke-creator, so our air is clearer today.
I got a new fire map for today, and no change from yesterday!
I got a little sign this morning that I am getting calmer about the fire. Today, when I took the coffee out to the front, I turned on my iPod and bounced along to my usual mad mix of music. As I was listening, it struck me that I had not turned my iPod on once since the fire lit up. For those of you who know me, you know that this is a LITTLE unusual. Perhaps I was anxious about things after all :-).
P.S. 4 pots of coffee this morning, probably because we offered the "mocha" option using hot chocolate packets donated by UPS. We also served (and ate) more of Leslie's delicious scones, warm from the oven. I will post the recipe on the main site later.
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-2 at 8pm)
Today the weather cooperated beautifully with the efforts to clean up the burned areas where Cal Fire created a fire break. It was also a perfect day to run helicopters into Montgomery Woods to fight that fire. Although the fire is still burning there, and bad weather could rile it up again, at the moment everyone remains upbeat that this fire is coming under control. As the evening cools off, it is quite clear up here, and Cal Fire has left only a few crews to babysit our fires. Tomorrow they will be back at it dousing the fire in the Woods and mopping up our back-burns.
On our property, we still occasionally hear trees fall as the back-burn continues to burn itself out. I still have not been able to get to the bottom of our place, as Cal Fire wants to keep me from getting hit in the head with a falling, burning tree. Probably a good thing.
We are told the falling trees are nothing to worry about, but it has extended their "mop-up" operation into at least another day.
I did receive a 7/2 fire map, and I will be updating the fire maps on the website at www.glenmaple.com/fire later tonight. The fire is still growing, especially on the North side on Lisa Weger's property and closer to the Montgomery Woods Grove, but only small incursions on our side.
There is a also a new link on the website to an excellent pdf document that describes how to build with a defensible space around your home. Brian Kornegay (our IC) reminded me that fires ARE going to happen up here they are a part of the life of these forests. The best thing we can do is build so that there is minimal danger to our homes, even if the fire surrounds them. The document describes how to do this, even in heavy tree cover and with beautiful, natural surroundings.
Sleep well, and dream of cool, foggy, still weather through the holiday weekend,
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-2 at 11:45pm)
Today there are again at least 12 crews on the road, and they are working hard to clean up the burn areas. I know everyone was worried yesterday, because the whole ranch was frantic with activity, but that was a very good thing for us. Crews from all over the country were here to try and stop the fire from getting out of Montgomery Woods. It was headed up the East side of the Woods that borders our property, and the firefighters knew if it came over the ridge it would be very difficult to stop.
Our place has the advantage of being relatively clear of trees, so they wanted to burn out the grass so there was nothing for the fire to burn if it did make it over. The burn on our place went to the top of the ridge and down into the scrubby hillside on the other side, and the firefighters think it provides the final piece of defense they needed to stop the fire.
There were helicopters all day yesterday getting water from Queenelle's pond and other sources and dumping in the Woods. Another pair of large helicopters were dropping retardant. Today, there are going to be 6 helicopters working down in the Woods, so the pace of activity will be very high again.
All of the fire crews I spoke with this morning think (and say!) that we have turned a great corner. Certainly, the weather has to continue to help, but if it stays still and cool our road should start to quiet down in the next couple of days. Even with the best of new in the days to come, some crews will be out here for about 2 weeks after the danger has finally passed, and we will continue to see things burning on our hillsides where the fire came to us or where they did their back-burns.
The best thing you can do now is keep your eyes out for any new fire outside the burned and prepped areas. The firefighters call this the "green" compared to the "black" of the burned area, and they will be very aggressive fighting anything that appears in the green. Mostly, that means that if you see fire on the South side of Running Springs Road or anywhere to the East of our driveway, you should call 911. If you see fire and don't know if it is in a "good" spot, call 911.
Many people have asked about conditions in Montgomery Woods. Although I don't know much first-hand, the Parks people I have spoken with treat this as part of the life of the Woods. Of course they are concerned and keeping a close eye on things, especially the grove, but so far it has stayed out of the grove.
I did have the opportunity to go up in a spotter helicopter on one of their runs. In addition to having a great ride with Brian Kornegay and 2 very skilled pilots (and having an unequalled view of the world), I was also able to see the fire in Montgomery Woods. From the air the trees look untouched! Plumes of smoke all around, so you know there is plenty of fire under the trees. I am sure it looks different from the ground, and I am sure there was extensive damage to the life of the Woods, but the solid canopy of interlocking green trees is still there.
One funny event this morning. I was looking out at the 10 or so fire trucks and other equipment sitting by our pond. Behind them the sad sight of smoke puffing out from a big Bay tree that succumbed to the fire, and I saw a white van driving slowly past the crew of chain-saw operators who were unloading equipment from their pickup. As the van came around I saw the FedEx logo on the side. FedEx was driving through to deliver a package to us from LL Bean. Somehow this sight made me laugh. Life (or at least FedEx) is returning to the ranch.
Best to all of you,
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-1 at 7:45pm)
They have completed the burn and are very pleased. As the night goes on, they expect more burning, including some trees. We are not completely in the clear, but everything went exactly as they hoped. The fire went up to the ridge and down into the woods, and they tied the burned out, black area on our property to the part that had burned by wildfire earlier on the Weger property East of the Hot Springs. Crews will be here for at least 24 hours mopping up and keeping the fire inside the "black."
Today, they also began fighting the fire inside Montgomery Woods for the first time. The Parks service approved an operation to take water and retardant into the woods. That is where the helicopters have been going today.
Brian Kornegay, The Incident Commander, said that this burn is a turning point for the fire, because now the fire is out of fuel on this ridge, and this was its last point of entry to the ranch.
I am a little beat, and will not do another update until tomorrow, but all looks good so far.
P.S. There are some pictures of the burn up on the website www.glenmaple.com/fire
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-1 at 2:45pm)
The controlled burn is about 1/3 done now, and they have been perfect in their plan. They went easily around the pond cabin and the pond, and then the Incident Commander made sure that they protected our favorite oak grove as then headed down the hill.
The whole process is frightening and impressive at the same time. The fire starter walks along pouring fire into the grass, starting a perfect line of flame. His face is covered in a sheet of yellow mask, hooking up to his yellow uniform, with a pair of safety glasses all that you can see, looking for all the world like a comic-book superhero. The grass carries the fresh flames up the hill in a hot, loud burst. As soon as the fire takes, a wet line is run behind the fire to keep it from coming back onto the protected ground. Moments later it is done. The fire is out, the ground is black, and the trees are barely singed.
I'm off to check on their progress.
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-1 at 1:45pm)
The controlled burn is going just as they planned at our place. I can see it coming down the hill toward the pond cabin, and the crews are shepherding it down as well as surrounding the pond cabin just in case. Between me and the burn, I think there must be 50 firefighters.
I cannot see the burn down below, so no news on that one.
As you have probably heard, there is also a steady stream of helicopters heading somewhere in the Woods or at the bottom of the Woods. Great that they can get in there, and thanks Queenelle for having a pond that can provide helicopter-bucket water!
Also, several people have asked about the latest CDF map. I did get one about 1/2 an hour ago (dated 6/30), and I am pleased to say that the fire is the same size and shape as the map from 6/29 that is on the website. They didn't print enough maps today to get them to everyone, and (not surprising) I was not on their critical list! I will get a new one out if I get one from them. Probably not until tomorrow, though.
Best to all,br> Rod
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-1 at 12:15pm)
A quick update on two things.
1. I was wrong about the size of the controlled burn. They are going to burn all the way up to the Pond Cabin and then up the hill to Montgomery Woods.
2. For those of you on Yahoo! email, Yahoo! is frequently delaying my emails for 24-48 hours. I guess I should be flattered to be considered a tasty luncheon meat. I hope you get this email so you will know why others haven't gotten through. If you have an alternative email address, please let me know.
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (7-1 at 11:30am)
I went out to the mailboxes where they stage in the morning and the sight was beautiful. I saw at least 11 fire trucks and myriad other vehicles from all over the country (I noticed Montana, Santa Barbara, and Wyoming). They were all waiting for Brian Kornegay (the Incident Commander) to come from the briefing to give the plan for the day. I managed to give away 3 full pots of coffee and some orange juice (just in case someone is counting :-).
I was, however, completely upstaged by Leslie (of Dan and Leslie), who brought fresh-baked scones that were still warm from the oven. I know they were for the fire crew, but I couldn't resist having one, and they were superb. Thanks Leslie (even if you did show me up!).
When Brian arrived, he let people know that this was a very high priority site, and sent some crews and a water tender to the back of the ranch to continue working between Tim and Jeanette's and the Peterson's place.
Then he started talking about how they were concerned about movement by the fire to the North-East of Montgomery Woods, and the bulk of the activity today would be protection from that. My ears perked up a bit to hear the rest, since our place is exactly on the North-East side of the Woods. The rest of what he described is definitely in the "good news" category, even though it is sad for Shirlie and for me. They are going to do a controlled burn today on our place.
For those of you who have been here, it is from the lower cabin North to the lower meadow and West to Montgomery Woods. They want some "black" to hook up the burned area at the Weger's place below us.
This probably sounds scary to those of you who aren't up here, but watching these guys work, they are so careful with these burns. They clear carefully first. They won't do them in the wind. They have crews all around, and they have a truck and a crew at each of our buildings. If you had seen the trees on fire a few days ago out at the end of Running Springs the first night the fire made it up there, you would be happy that they are doing this burn to protect us all.
The fire crews are very pleased with the way everything is set up at the house, the barn, and the pond cabin, and they didn't have to do any clearing around those buildings. All they did was move flammable things (picnic tables, barbeques, etc.) inside or away from the house. At this point they are not planning to bring the burn up to the pond or the house, but they want to be extra safe and cautious.
Down by the lower cabin, they already cut a fire break with about a 100' perimeter around the cabin, and they are going to try to keep the fire outside of that perimeter.
Please don't worry about me. The cats are inside. The station wagon is packed and ready to go, and I am surrounded by an army of competent professionals.
We can also hope that the pressure of the fire on this side means that Lisa Weger's place, the Hot Springs, and the Grove will get a break today. They could sure use it!
Best to all,
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (6-30 at 8pm)
Just a quick note, since several people called worried from town today...
I spoke with the Incident Commander (see, now I know what an IC is), and all is going well so far. No new fire outbreaks on this side of the fire, and the back-fire breaks have been cleaned up well. Lots of new dozer work all around and better preparation for the fire if it nature decides to push it this way.
No change at all since the last message, but I wanted to assure some jangled nerves.
P.S. I spoke with several firefighters who were down on Lisa Weger's property, and my heart goes out to her. You can see on the map how the North-West part of the fire has pushed onto her place West of Orr Hot Springs, and the firefighters say it has been bad. Up here, we have been frightened at the prospect of fire getting here, but she has been suffering it already. I hope the work they did down there today helps.
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (6-30 at 3:30pm)
I have been out since breakfast talking and delivering goodies (6 pots of coffee and all our orange juice, which is suddenly the hottest thing). There is a lot of activity and much debate about what to do today.
The Orr Series/Montgomery Woods fire did not grow materially yesterday. I have the map from this morning, and the edges are the same as they were. Two days of still air and cooler weather has really helped give us time to prepare.
There are numerous crews here today. It was inspiring to see them all lined up at the mailboxes this morning. They are "mopping up" the controlled burns from yesterday and creating more dozer firebreaks in several key locations. They are expanding some of the lines on our place. There are now good defenses in the form of burned area or dozer breaks along much of the area where the fire appears to be coming.
Today Brian Kornegay (the IC for the Orr Series/Montgomery Woods fire) and I drove up on the ridge line between our place and Montgomery Woods and then over to the Durfees to scout out places where the ranch could be vulnerable and to look for ideal places to protect and/or back-burn. I admit that I have no idea what an IC is (except that it is some kind of big cheese, and his name is first in the briefings), but Brian is a great person and is totally dedicated to protecting our ranch. In the last 6 hours, I have spoken with people from several different agencies and many different fire crews, and all are hard at work!
The fire is still strong on the other side of the hill, in Montgomery Woods and West of Montgomery Woods. Although we have felt much calmer here because of the big effort, the fire crews I talk to don't really see it the same way. They are pleased to have created their defenses, but with 3,000 of acres burned and burning on the other side of the hill, and much of the area on this side heavily treed, they know there could still be trouble coming.
The winds have picked up, and they are blowing from the coast up our valleys, creating conditions that could move the fire East and South.
Not much else to report. I am sorry that I have been so busy outside and not been as consistent with these updates.
Thanks again to all the fire crews from around here and now from Wyoming and South Dakota, too.
Best to everyone,
Orr Series-Montgomery Woods fire update (6-29 at 11:50pm)
Sorry I didn't manage to get an afternoon update out. It was frustrating that without a new map I couldn't get a good sense of the fire, and when I couldn't find anyone with a map, the strangest thing happened: I fell asleep for a couple hours in the middle of the afternoon. Can't figure out why :-).
Today ended the same as it began. Lots of activity on the defense line for the fire at the back of the ranch while the fire continued to make its way toward that line. The Orr Series/Montgomery Woods fire is now over 3,000 acres, and it is still growing dangerously, but it's growth has slowed thanks to cooler, foggier weather and less wind. It is amazing how the circumstances of fires seem more dependent on weather and less on what you do or plan to do.
I have updated the website ( http://www.glenmaple.com/fire ) with new maps of where the fire is and some new pictures taken by Jimmy Booth.
Just to keep it interesting, tonight they discussed doing the controlled burn on our place again, but thanks to the road they cut along the ridge, it was easy to go see that the fire was not coming up the hillside on the other side, so they put it off again until at least tomorrow.
They cut back to a very small crew tonight, letting some exhausted and overworked firefighters get a real meal and maybe even some sleep. It is amazing how hard these crews work when they need to!
The smoke cleared briefly this afternoon, so Shirlie opened up the house and let in some of the cool evening air. It was delicious for about 2 hours, and then we were back to living in someone's fireplace, so we closed up and turned on the fan/filter again. The fresh air blowing through the house was a fond remembrance of a time that seems awfully long ago.
P.S. Our happy announcement that we had a working phone line was premature. It worked for 14 hours and then cut out again. We don't know where the problem is, but maybe I will have time to try to find it tomorrow. In the meantime we are back to email and voicemail only.
Orr-Montgomery Woods fire update (6-29 at 11:45am)
It is a busy, but quiet morning today. The fog was thick in our valley, and it is deliciously cool.
Shirlie and I just drove out to the back of the ranch, and there are 2 dozers and several crews working back there (mostly past Tara's). They are clearing the area with the dozers and chainsaws to be sure they can get in there to fight the fire if it comes up that way.
They also airlifted a chainsaw crew to the knob below the Peter's place to make sure that the small fire there is really out.
The mood of the crews is very positive, because they feel they are getting something positive accomplished. It is an impressive effort, and we are very glad to be getting all this attention!
It is our first 3-pots-of-coffee morning. We are headed back out in a minute, and I will try to get another fire map. I won't really know how the fire is progressing down in Montgomery Woods until I see one.
Best to everyone, Rod
Orr-Montgomery Woods fire update (6-29 at 1:45am)
A busy day became a busy evening and finally a quiet night. There were at least 8 fire trucks working all day, and overhead at least two helicopters and planes were flying at all times. I never thought I would like the sound of helicopters buzzing the ranch quite so much... As the sun went down, a train of fire trucks left the ranch, and it was impressive the manpower and equipment that had been here all day.
Shirlie and I just took a pot of coffee to the 3 crews that are keeping an eye on Running Springs tonight. After setting all those back-fires all day, there is still lots burning on the North side of Running Springs out by Tim and Jeanette's and then down the road to Clay's and on to Leslie's place. Walking along the road, it was eerie with all the light from the fires warmth from the heat of the coals. Every now and again we heard a branch or tree fall and then the sparks would dance like fireflies. Even knowing the crew was right there, it didn't seem right to see the hillside burning.
Every one of the firefighters was in high spirits, even well into their "24" shift. They were very pleased to have created a more defensible hillside. Even through our inexperienced eyes, it was easy to tell how open and free of debris and "fuel" the area was.
Earlier we spoke with one of the crew bosses, and he told us that they also had success with the air attack. They used a large military helicopter to drop retardant on some areas they want to defend. The smaller Cal Fire helicopter dumped load after load on the fire that flared up again below Peter's. Before they were able to drop their first bucket, it had grown to 20 acres. By the end of the day, they think it is completely out. This is good news, since it was on the East side of the fire break, putting it on the wrong side of their defense zone.
Good success all around! We still have a long way to go, as the Orr/Montgomery Woods fire is still burning strong and growing, but the work done today feels like it should give them a shot at containing it.
We decided to go ahead and repair our phone line, even though they may bulldoze it again. As of now our land lines are working again! While we were repairing the line, I think the spotter helicopter was worried that we were going to wander into the fire zone, so they kept buzzing us and watching.
Later when I was describing this to an out-of-state firefighter, he said "What exactly were you and your wife doing that got the helicopter crew so interested?" I said we were "fixing our phone line" and he said "Oh, so that is what you call it out here." It was nice to have a laugh!
I also learned that Shirlie sells a lot more coffee than I do. We finished off a pot and could have given away more. The firemen seemed more animated and talkative with Shirlie around, too. Go figure.
Orr-Montgomery Woods fire update (6-29 at 1:45am)
It has been a very busy day up here.
True to the Cal Fire plan for today, fire trucks have been showing up regularly to go out to the area underneath Clay's house, out past Tim and Jeanette's. They have done multiple back-burns and are working in flames and smoke that is thick enough to make you feel you can't breathe. I dont know how they do it, but I am very grateful.
As I described this morning, the problem is that the Orr/Montgomery Woods fire has now grown large enough to get to us at the back of the ranch.
Also, just as promised, Cal Fire has been doing regular helicopter attacks on the fire that appeared this morning on the wrong (East) side of the fire break they cut through our place. I can't tell if it is out, but the effort has been consistent. They are fighting hard to keep the fire inside the boundary created by the break through my place (this keeps the fire from moving East) and Running Springs Road (which keeps the fire from moving North). Although I don't know much about stopping a large forest fire, it sure looks like a good plan.
On the good news front, Jimmy Booth and I just went up to the ridge between my place and Montgomery Woods, and the air was clear enough that we could see down into the valley to the West. Although there was plenty of smoke and fire in Montgomery Woods, the fire had not yet come up the East slope anywhere near the ridge where we were. That is some relief, because if it was coming up this slope at the same time it was coming up the valley underneath Clay's house, the fire crews would have to split their efforts.
Just like in the movies, it is always better for the bad guys to come at you one at a time.
Montgomery Woods fire update (6-28 at 11:50am)
Sorry to be so late getting news out I just got back to the house. This morning I started out at 8:30 to find the fire crews and deliver some more coffee and juice (at least Shirlie and I are good at making coffee). Since then, I have had numerous conversations with neighbors and fire crews and with Sheriff Allman.
Good news first:
As I headed out on the first run, three fire trucks and two CDF pickups were arriving on our road. They have been periodically watching the fires beyond Tim and Jeanette's (#3940) and the bottom of Clay Young's (#3581) place all night. They are actually encouraged to see some of the "fuel" burned on the North-West side of the road. There was evidence that they had actually tried to do a couple of back burns there, but they didn't take, so all the burning was coming up from the Montgomery Woods fire.
The trees I saw burning last night have mostly fallen and are smoldering. Some are still in flame, but the crew is right there.
According to every official I met, our road is a key priority for them now. As they have been saying for several days, Running Springs Road is the best real break between the Montgomery Woods fire and the valley on the South-East. They are planning on dedicating more resources here, starting today, to try and make a stand here. No one really knows how the fire trucks will be allocated, but we should have between 3 and 10 fire trucks here.
The Montgomery Woods fire has grown significantly, and continues to grow every day. In the last 2 days, it has come 1/2 mile directly toward Running Springs Road. One crew chief said it was now 2,900 acres, whereas it was less than 1,000 acres a few days ago. It has made it up near the road (or to individual driveways at the end of the road) all the way out from Tim and Jeanette's to the end of the road.
At one point below/North of our house (#4450), a new fire has begun on the wrong side of the dozer fire break that they put in. The fire trucks cannot get there, so they have called for helicopter attack. There is a steady stream of spotter planes and helicopters, but so far the smoke has been too thick for them to lay anything down. They are serious in trying to create a line of protection.
Please email with any questions or thoughts. I will be out much of the day, but will try to keep information flowing.
Thanks to all the neighbors who answered the call this morning to come help. It is gratifying to see and feel all the concern and energy of this wonderful neighborhood.
P.S. no new map today, but the site is still up at http://www.glenmaple.com/fire with the map from yesterday.
Montgomery Woods fire update (6-28 at 2:00am)
I made a final run the length of Running Springs Road, trying to sell some coffee, but I did not find any firefighters on the ranch this time.
I am afraid that tomorrow will be a challenge for the ranch, especially at the back. Beyond Tim and Jeanette's I saw several fires (or one big one) coming up the hills on the north side of the road. They run from just past Tim and Jeanette's to the bottom of the shared road leading to Young/Pletcher and others. The fires are coming up the hill, and I could see the trees burning and feel the heat of the fire from the road. CDF has been keeping an eye on these fires, but decided not to do anything tonight.
If you look at the fire map from this morning ( www.glenmaple.com/fire ), that means the fire has covered a lot of ground to get up this far.
Earlier tonight I heard that CDF is hoping that the fires tonight will burn some of the fuel on the north hillside and they are still planning to fight the fire at Running Springs Road to keep it from getting to the other side. It looks to me like tomorrow could be a test of that fight.
I hope I am wrong, and the fires die way back during the night, but I wanted to let people know what was going on tonight.
I also just drove to the bottom of our place, and did not find any fire encroachment onto the new fire break down there. That means that the North-East part of the fire did not move so fast today. I hope that meant a break in the danger at Orr Hot Springs, too.
Finally, I also went to Greenfield Ranch and spoke with the sheriff there, and he said things went well tonight fighting fires at Greenfield. He had no details, just that the fire crews thought things went well.
Please feel free to email or come by any time. Our phones are still out.
RE: Fire approaching Tim and Jeanette Owen-Kennedy's place
Shirlie and I just went out to the Owen-Kennedy place and drove past to look at the valley where the fire was burning earlier. We saw no fire, but did see some embers when we looked down the hill. As hoped, it appears to have quieted down in the night.
We passed one fire truck that was headed out the road and one CDF pickup coming in.
RE: Fire approaching Tim and Jeanette Owen-Kennedy's place
Tim Pletcher and Steven and I were just out at the Owen-Kennedy's, and there is a fire coming up the valley just beyond the Owen-Kennedy house. There are several fire breaks that have been cut in the hillside over the last few days, and it is getting more still and cool, so it will most likely calm down during the night. It is possible, however, that it could heat up and come up that valley. If it does get up into the trees and if the wind picks up, it could make it up the valley and across Running Springs Road. The crew does not expect it, but they thought it was possible.
Meanwhile, there are two fire trucks on scene and they are going to try to stay there tonight. Of course, you all know already that there are several houses that have fire right up to them over in Greenfield, so I think it is possible that they could be called off during the night. If anyone drives by at any hour and sees trouble, look for the fire crew. If you don't see a fire truck there, call 911.
Please don't go down into the fire, because one of the possible strategies for stopping this fire is to back-burn between the fire breaks, and they cannot do that if there are people down in there.
Shirlie and I are going to take a pot of coffee out to the crew in about an hour, and we will see what is happening then.
RE: Fire approaching Tim and Jeanette Owen-Kennedy's place
There are 2 engines at the site and will continue watching. Rod is on his way back to the house and will provide more details.
Shirlie (for Rod)
Fire approaching Tim and Jeanette Owen-Kennedy's place
I just got word that there is fire approaching Tim and Jeanette Owen-Kennedy's place from the backside, coming up from the Montgomery Woods fire. It is currently coming up the hill and about 50 feet from the fire break that CDF cut.
At this moment there are no firefighters there, but 911 had been alerted and they say someone is on the way.
I am calling 911 again now to be sure.
Montgomery Woods fire update (6-27 at 1:45pm)
All quiet at our place today!
It is very smoky and the fire is still growing, but the fire crews remain pleased with how the fire burned itself out yesterday at the edge of their fire break. There are no plans now for a controlled burn on our place, but they are prepared to do one if the fire approaches up the hillside to our west.
I have put up some new fire maps and pictures on the web:
The map shows how the fire has grown considerably in the last day and a half, and it was very sad to see another neighbor's property blackened with fire. Both our western and northern neighbors have now suffered significant burning from this fire, and our heart goes out to them.
Near us, the fire has also repeatedly threatened the Orr Hot Springs resort and Greenfield Ranch.
Nevertheless, the word for the morning from the fire crew is: No news is good news. Rod
Montgomery Woods fire update (6-26 at 7:45pm)
What a day. The fire crews were here working all day, doing great work trying to create a break and an area that they could burn. Then at 2:00 they expanded the area to burn to include our upper hills, and they said they had to burn the area around our pond and road. Then at 4:30 they finished all the dozer work and waited.
It turns out that the fire had come across from Montgomery Woods down below us and burned an old "homestead" orchard on a neighbor's property and then the fire went out on its own at the break.
Now they have a burned area below us where they were planning to do the controlled burn, and the burned area up at the top on the Durfee's place, and they are thinking that may be enough. No final decision, but for tonight they are hopeful that they have enough of a defensible "black" burned area that they may not need to do the burn on our place.
A bit of a roller coaster of a day, with lots of work running in front of dozers and trying to help show people the lay of the land here, but the end result is very encouraging. Not a major victory yet, but I will take a minor one heading into the night.
Thanks for all the wonderful support and thoughts. We do feel them in our hearts.
RE: Montgomery Woods fire update (6-26 at 12:15pm)
Sorry that some people got the attachment and some did not. I put it up on the glenmaple website at this address:
Remember that your browser will probably shrink it to fit on your screen, but if you click on it (or right-click or something else, depending on your browser), you should be able to see it full size.
They are doing the final cuts for the controlled burn (above our pond), but may not start it until evening.
Montgomery Woods fire update (6-26 at 12:15pm)
Good afternoon. I have been out with the fire crews this morning (and welcoming some kind neighbors this noon offering help and company), so I have some new information about the Montgomery Woods fire.
Attached is a scan [the image described is on the website here now] of the fire map from this morning (if you want a higher-resolution version, let me know). The legend shows the "Uncontrolled Fire Edge" of two large fires. I shaded Montgomery Woods itself (the red/grey color) and our property #4450 (green). Running Springs Road itself is the squiggly bottom of the green shaded area. Orr Springs Road is near the top, and you can see where the Hot Springs is by the "Orr Springs" label on the map.
Both of the large fires are growing toward Running Springs Ranch from the west. The fire in Montgomery woods is the larger, closer one that I have been describing in previous emails. Yesterday they thought the fire had crossed onto our place at the north-west corner, but this map shows it still a bit away.
I don't know anything about the fire labeled "Daugherty/Gates".
This morning, they are making a fire break across about the western 1/3 of our parcel, going down to Orr Springs Road by the big old barn that is on Orr Springs this side of Orrs Hot Springs. As of an hour ago, they still plan to do a controlled burn of that 1/3 of our place and part of the Weger place to try to stop the Montgomery Woods fire. I don't know for sure if or when they will do the burn. If they tell us, I will try to shoot off a quick email on our way out.
Montgomery Woods fire update (6-25 at 9:30pm)
Another afternoon at the ranch... I bounced around in the Suzuki taking fire crew chiefs to the corners of our property. It is a wonderful place, even full of smoke and fear.
They have decided that we still need to do some sort of controlled burn to attempt to stop the Montgomery Woods State Reserve fire. They became convinced of the need to go ahead with the burn when they returned from fighting the fire at Orrs Hot Springs (which they said they saved from burning this afternoon). After driving around our place looking at the possibilities, fortunately they think they can succeed with a smaller burn.
Tomorrow morning they are going to bring in dozers to cut another fire break from the bottom of our driveway to Orrs Springs Road, connecting up to the break they created this morning. Then they are planning on burning all the property between that line and Montgomery Woods.
Although we wish we could have avoided this fire altogether, this smaller burn will only affect about 1/4 of our place, and after looking at the maps of where the fire has managed to expand unchecked, it does look like they need a big break to try to stop the fire. It has overtaken most of Montgomery Woods.
The fire under Peters has been quiet for 2 days now, so there is some hopeful progress.
We are staying here tonight, with crews watching over us. Rod
Montgomery Woods fire update (6-25 at 3:50pm)
A bit more news about the Montgomery Woods fire...
The fire crews did some amazing and daring dozer work to complete a fire break along the ridge border between our place (#4450) and Montgomery Woods. They were hoping to go all the way to the bottom (north-east) end of Montgomery Woods and hook up to Orr Springs Road somewhere to make a complete break, but that did not work out. In any event, the work they did creates a decent fire break for the area it covers.
As a result, they are not thinking of doing any controlled burn on our place today. They have not decided if they will do one tomorrow or not.
Meanwhile, the fire in Montgomery Woods continues to move slowly east. According to the Parks Service, it has reached the north-west edge of our property now (still at least 1/2 mile from our house).
Fire update (6-25 at noon)
Unfortunately, there are 2 pieces of troubling news from the fire department.
1. The fire that has been burning on the west side of Montgomery Woods has pushed east so that the fire crews are concerned that it is going to come across onto the ranch over the west side of our parcel where we border Montgomery Woods.
They are talking about lots of ways to try to stop the fire in Montgomery Woods, but until it gets to our place (#4450), the trees are too thick and the land is too steep to make a break. They said that the air attack has not been able to work because it is so smoky in the valley.
Since there are so many houses on the south side of Running Springs, they are hoping to stop the fire before it gets to Running Springs Road.
They are currently cutting a road along our ridge to try to get down into Montgomery Woods and create a break along the ridge or down the hillside, but if that doesn't work out well, they are considering the following (this is the second piece of troubling news):
2. They may have to create a controlled burn to clear out the "fuel" on this side of Montgomery Woods. This burn would be on the north side of Running Springs Road. It would be mostly our parcel, but also possibly some others on this side of the road.
They said this will be done carefully, taking care when they burn near any the buildings in the affected area.
I have to go to get ready, but I thought you would want to know. We still don't have phone service, so email is the best way to contact us.
Fire update (6-24 at 11am)
I hope you got the update from Dan Wentworth, and I don't have much to add, except that the air quality is much worse here today. From our house, I cannot see our pond cabin at all, and the barn is visible, but not clear.
We haven't seen any fire crews today, so I don't have any other useful news. I hear on the radio that there are some new and troubling fires at Greenfield Ranch, so you may want to contact friends there.
Our phone lines will be out for the duration, and we don't get cell service here, but please feel free to come on by for coffee or food or a place to stay if you are up here. The air INSIDE the house is pretty good, although my personal calibration may be a bit off by now :-).
Fire update (6-24 at 10am)
I am not the best informed, but I thought I would tell everyone what I know about the fire situation up here on Running Springs Road.
Shirlie and I are at our house, and on our way up we talked with several crew members. The two fires that are still the most worrisome are the one that has come twice up the valley by the Durfee's house (across from Queenelle's place) and the one that is underneath the Peter's lookout. Both are about the same as yesterday noon, and could become a problem depending on the wind.
I believe there are also some other fires that are visible from further out Running Springs Road, but Clay or Tim will have to pipe in with those details if they have them.
We were told several conflicting instructions when we called the fire hotline numbers, but the fire crews up here say that they would prefer if people were not here during the day, but that the nights (after about 8:00pm) are not so dangerous. They think it will days before things are really under control. There is no mandatory evacuation, but they still recommend staying away.
If you are up here and want to come by, please do so any time. There are several fire truck at the moment, as they found it was a good place to keep an eye on the fire below Peter's. Unfortunately our phone line was cut by the fire crews when they were clearing a field, so we don't have phone service any longer (and the cell phones are dodgy at best). I can still get voicemail messages on our home line, so call there and leave a message if you want. Please be patient with my time calling back...
I hope all of you are well and safe. I look forward to a smoke-free visit soon!
If any of this wasn't clear, or if you think I might know anything else, please email me.
Latest update (6-23 at 2pm)
We are back in our house now, and all is about the same as yesterday. Our valley is filled with smoke, and there are several fires in the neighboring valleys. The fire department told us it is OK for us to be back up here and they will let us know if there is any danger. So far only our neighbor on the west side of our place has lost any structures, and the fire crews did great work saving their house. We don't think they will have to evacuate us again, but we have kept the car full and ready to go anyway.
Meanwhile, the fire crew had to cut our phone lines to clear a field, so we won't have phone service until they get all the fires out. That could be several days, so please don't feel bad if we don't call you right back. Our cell phones don't work here either, so email is it for now.
Oddly, since I can get our home phone messages via email, I can get messages off our home line, but not off of my cell phone. Ah, technology.
Shirlie and I are well, and our only anxious moment was getting in to a neighbors to get their dog and cat... All is well with everyone on our road (people and animals).