Tourists Still Lighting Illegal Campfires in Big Sur

Frightening to realize illegal camp fires are being made while we are in our fourth week of the Soberanes Fire. The photos clearly illustrate we need more toilet facilities.

Xasáuan Today

As everyone knows, a gigantic, illegal-campfire-caused wildfire is currently burning in Big Sur. It has already burned over 80,000 acres, destroyed nearly 60 homes, and led to the death of a firefighter. It isn’t expected to be contained, much less out, until the end of September.

You might think this reality – impossible for anyone living in, or visiting, Big Sur to ignore – would cause people to seriously think twice before building illegal fires of their own.

You might think this. But you’d be wrong.

Tourists are still lighting fires along the coast on a nightly basis. Many, in places that directly threaten homes and portions of the backcountry (like the Silver Peak Wilderness) the current fire is expected to spare.

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Here, for example, lie the remains of a very recent campfire at Salmon Creek. Remember Salmon Creek?

Notice how it was not put out with water, but…

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Soberanes Fires

The Soberanes Fire started on July 22, 2016 in Garrapata State Park Trails, from an illegal campfire.  The result has been nearly 71,000 acres have burned as of August 13, 2016, and have achieved 60% containment, 57 homes have been lost, three homes have been damaged and numerous outbuildings lost or damaged.  At one point, there were over 5,500 firefighters, now down to 4,400.  Tragically, one bulldozer operator died when his dozer rolled over the edge of a cliff.  He leaves behind a wife and two little girls.

The areas impacted have been the Cachugau and Tassajara areas of Carmel Valley.  Backburns are still being conducted to completely extinguish the flames.  At one point, a portion of the Carmel Highlands, near Point Lobos, was evacuated.  The photo on the left shows Point Lobos as the fog is rolling in at the bottom, above and to the left, you can see a huge cloud of brown smoke.  The top right photo shows the plum of smoke from Carmel Valley as seen from Wharf No. 1 in Monterey.  The bottom right photo shows the brown smoke in the air above Carmel Views.  The very top photo shows a flare up of flames with a tiny light on the right from a bulldozer.

At the present time, on the South, the fire has moved into the Ventana Wilderness and Los Padres National Forest.  An immense firefight is taking place to protect Big Sur Village.  Highway One will be closed from 2 PM on August 24, for at least 24 hours.  All subject to weather conditions while they execute a backburn in extremely steep terraine.

Our community has stepped up to recognize the fabulous work of the firefighters with thank you posters on the roads.  The Big Sur firefighters are a volunteer department and the community has arranged for local chefs to prepare meals, the community has donate socks, hand wipes, water, poison oak medication, etc.  And for homeowners who have lost their homes, several fund raisers have taken place with more scheduled.  What a great community!

With all of this loss, it is gratifying to see some of the wildlife who has survived. In the last three days, I have seen a condor circling in the City of Monterey.  And among the ashes, we see little green sprouts popping up.  A rebirth to give hope.