California: Basin fire

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The Basin fire at Big Sur took out another three homes late yesterday, which brings the total to 20. The fire was very active on the north side in the Puerto Suelo Creek drainage, on the east side near Tassajara, and on the northwest side around Big Sur where it has burned across some dozer lines and is within 1/2 mile or less of the coast highway.

There is also a lot of fire activity on the south side where firefighters are attempting to hold the fire at dozer lines from the ridge down to the coast, and along the North Coast Ridge Trail where they conducted a firing operation, hoping to hold the fire north of the trail and tie it in with the Indians fire using the Rodeo Flats Trail.

The evacuation order has been extended from Andrew Molera State Park north to Palo Colorado Canyon Road. The fire is 64,304 acres and 5% contained.

A Forest Service spokesperson said:

Offshore winds have caused the fire to make a substantial advance along the coast toward Big Sur. The fire spotted across numerous locations from Ventana Inn north to Manuel Peak and burned actively downslope through the night. This is causing major control problems in protecting the Big Sur community.

Some residents are refusing to evacuate.

Kirk Gafill, general manager of Nepenthe, said he and five employees were up all night trying to protect the cliffside restaurant his grandparents built in 1949. Wearing dust masks, the crew scrambled to stamp out embers, some the size of dinner plates, that were dropping from the sky, he said.

“We know fire officials don’t have the manpower to secure our properties,” Gafill said. “There are a lot of people in this community not following evacuation orders. Based on what we saw during Katrina and other disasters, we know we can only rely on ourselves and our neighbors.”

Greg Ambrosio, who lives next to Nepenthe, signed a waiver Wednesday night to stay in his house. But his plans to stay were disrupted when he was awoken by a neighbor in the middle of the night who warned of the approaching inferno.

“Then there’s a knock on the door, and we go outside and the fire had just expanded. It was Armageddon,” he said. “Just yellow smoke and ash mixed with fire. It was just raining down.”

Ambrosio said he and his wife grabbed their cat and drove to a relative’s house for the night.

The map below was current as of late yesterday, Thursday. Click on it for a larger version.

The map below shows heat, in red, orange, and black, detected by satellites last night, with the red areas being the most recently burned. The yellow lines are the perimeters uploaded by the incident management teams yesterday. Click on the map to see a larger version.

Source for the quote: Associated Press

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