Rey Fire, Friday August 19 the Day it Got Away, photo Mike Kent
Obviously the conversation these past few days, weeks and now months has been centered around the fires raging across the Los Padres. First we had Coleman, then Sherpa, Pine, Soberanes, Rey and even the Chimney Fire is now threatening LP lands. And this list doesn’t include the hundreds of smaller fires that we never even hear about. I was fortunate today to attend the Rey Fire morning briefing at fire camp. I’d never really been in a fire camp before. The amount of organization involved in fighting a large fire is simply incredible. There were lines of fire engines waiting to fill up at water tenders, food stations prepared to feed thousands of meals each day, crews from all over the place, what seemed like miles of tents, countless trucks color coordinated into neat sections (FS green over there, Cal Fire red that way, etc…) and all the sanitation needs from trash to porta-potties to hand washing stations. It was part music festival, part sporting event; without the festivity and with an air of stern professionalism. A portable city that moves around the Western US as needed and where needed with the sole purpose of stopping fires. This was clearly not their first rodeo.
Lead pilot Doug is the man! photo Humphrey
It’s easy for those of us watching the fires from the sidelines to ‘Monday morning quarterback’
and complain about why they didn’t save our favorite campsite or how they couldn’t hold that ridge. Trust me, I’m guilty. But we have to remember that they are the professionals. They are out there cutting lines in 100˚ heat. They are flying through smoke a mere hundred feet above flames. They are the ones balancing resources and making decisions where life is literally on the line. A bad decision here or there could lead to injuries or potentially a city burned to the ground. That’s heavy. Trails can be reworked, plants (mostly) will grow back and we’ve seen animals will survive. It sucks that we’re all dealing with fires but after today it was crystal clear that once you have a wildfire, you have to trust the process and believe in the fire crews. This is not their first rodeo (this month)
Rey over Mono Jungle, photo Ray Ford
Leaving the fire camp this morning I wanted to cheer on the crews as they left to cut lines or coordinate air attacks. I literally wanted to stand on the side of the road and cheer them on as if they were an NFL team running out of the tunnel and onto the field. And I wanted to wave a flag that said “WHATEVER YOU DO, PLEASE SAVE ALAMAR TRAIL”. Momentary kidding aside, thank you to everyone involved in the fire. EVERYONE. They say it takes a village, but in this case I can tell you it takes more than that. It takes a city, and sometimes more than one.
— • — • — • —
If you want to follow the progress of the Chimney, Soberanes or Rey Fire, the best place is on Twitter and search for that fire. We’ve been updating information on the LPFA Facebook page and Twitter page or you can check Inciweb as well. There is no shortage of information out there.
— • — • — • —
Along these lines, the Los Padres Forest went into Level IV fire restrictions earlier today. See attached PDF for more information. Basically Level IV prohibits any campfires within the Los Padres Forest. PERIOD. The difference between this years restrictions and those of the past few years is that this year the use of portable stoves outside of the designated campfire use sites
is also prohibited. This means anyone venturing outside of the campfire use sites or into designated wilderness areas will be eating cold food and drinking cold drinks. Again, see attached PDF for more details and please follow these restrictions.
— • — • — • —
A few upcoming dates, events, projects, presentations or things you might want to know.
If you have any forest-related events to add to this list, let us know and we’re more than happy to pimp your event!
September 10: NPLD Jesusita Trail, Santa Barbara Frontcountry
September 11: Island View Trail Race, Franklin Trail, Carpinteria
September 14: LPFA Backpacking Fundamentals Class
September 20: LPFA Trail Talk Series, History of Los Padres Lookouts by Craig Carey
September 24: National Public Lands Day Trail Project, Lion Canyon Trail, Ojai
October 1: LPFA Used Gear Sale
October 16: D-13 Hunting Season Starts
October 22-30: LPFA Working Vacation, Poplar Trail (ON HOLD)
October 29: LPFA First Aid & CPR Training