Lightning on Summer Solstice Saturday afternoon, June 21, sparked a fire that is Big Sur's worst in a 100 years. I'm sitting in Fernwood's lounge, drinking a beer, feeling like I'm sitting at the airport. Today I trucked another load of "one-of-a-kind" stuff to our friend's house in Seaside, my wedding dress and dozens of old books, belly dance gear, paintings and sculptures.
Talk about a roller-coaster the past week: going from all is lost and collapsing in very public tears, to dreaming that maybe we'll be all right, to obsessing about what the hell I should have grabbed and didn't Sunday afternoon.
Toby has yet to "light," i.e. be still for more than a few minutes, other than to sleep, in a week. He and several other renegade Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade members are wildcatting up on the ridge: even though the BSVFB has stood down for the fire due to US Forest Service involvement, these local residents are using their skills to assist the USFS strike teams in structure protection. They're putting out spot-fires, cutting lines around homes with weed-whackers and chainsaws, all day long in the smoke and flames. The goal: to drive the fire away from homes and back up into the wilderness, for good.
The forest service guys are doing backburns along Partington Ridge Road. The fire has now moved into the Partington Canyon to the south. We've lost two homes, Empress Sula's and the gracious Hopkins homestead, built in the 50's.
The good news: as of today our house still stands. At 6:30 am on Tuesday morning I called the BSVFB dispatch, to learn that they'd lost the battle for the house above us on our ridge. The USFS engine was leaving, and Toby was staying, to go down with the ship.
Panicked, I had them give him this message on the radio: Toby, get your Dad's sword and leave the property. Colonel Bones Rowland-Jones' regimental sword from the British Army would be important to him. Later they confirmed that he was safe. In my mind's eye I saw him springing off the mountain, flames all around him, sword in his upraised arm, eyes blazing as he flies directly to me!
The Basin Complex Fire is moving north, south and east. The folks who hosted us in the Big Sur Valley the past week are now packing their home up to leave. We have 793 firefighters, we need a few thousand.
More soon...it's not over yet, and there is a silver lining...
For updates, check out these sites:
Coastlands view, 6/27/08
A nice, wet day on Partington