400+ acre fire currently burning on Diablo

August 24, 2010 17:18 pm · 122 comments

Firefighters are currently battling a 50-acre blaze in Mt. Diablo State Park, on Curry Canyon Road near Morgan Territory.

Thanks to “Cathy” for the picture!

Stay tuned for updates….

UPDATE, 5:24pm: The fire is now at 100-acres and growing.

Our friend “EMSchick” is near the scene, and gives us an update….

-At LEAST 2 dozen + sirens have gone out there so far.

-At least one fixed wing and one helicopter dumping water and retardant.

-Our power went out for 1 or 2 seconds about an hour ago, but came right back on. Sounds like it was started by a transformer blowing from what people are saying.

- We are packing up our valuables because it is so big and moving so fast.

Thanks! And we appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers to protect our homes.

The blaze started at about 4:15 this afternoon.

UPDATE, 5:38pm: There is talk about closing down Morgan Territory Road, and also Mt. Diablo State Park. I would count on this happening very soon, because this blaze is growing.

UPDATE, 6:02pm: According to CalFIRE, the blaze is now at about 150-acres.

Thanks to “Pat” for the bottom picture!

UPDATE, 6:04pm: “EMSchick” fills us in with more information….

It is in a fairly rural area, but several houses are around. Where the fire is burning is very close to Curry Canyon trailer park, which has a lot of residents.

It appears to be heading up a hill towards the mountain now, away from the trailer park. We live just over the hill, as well as many more people.

If it keeps coming over the hill it will end up right where we are. Our area is mostly houses on about 5 acres. But there is so much fuel, once the fire gets going, it’s very hard to stop.

Thanks so much for the updates! Good luck!

UPDATE, 8:30pm: CalFIRE just gave us an update. The fire is 5% contained and has currently burned about 200-acres.

UPDATE, 10pm: CalFIRE is now saying the fire is at 400-acres and 50% contained.

Thanks to “Radar” for the slideshow pictured above!

UPDATE, Wednesday morning, 7:29am: The fire is now 85% contained at 400 acres.

101 Juan San Carlos August 25, 2010 at 11:22 AM

As the crow flies, the distance from the fire’s origin to the closest Blackhawk house is about seven miles, as the crow flies.

MAP CLICK HERE

102 just me August 25, 2010 at 11:27 AM

@Marshcreeker yes, they did swap crews out. The first hand crews I think came out of the Napa area (LNU). The did release 2 to head back and when I was coming to work saw two crews on Clayton Rd headed in. I didn’t hear for sure where those crews were from but as of last night they had crews/trucks headed in from El Dorado County and Santa Cruz/San Mateo (CZU). The dozer you saw leaving was probably the one headed back to Marin County, Marin County was one of the first to arrive late yesterday. I think they have hotel rooms set up at one of the (slum) motels on Clayton Rd for crews that wish to clean up and get some sleep before heading back to their “home” units. It sounds like most of the ConFire and SRV units have been relieved so they can head back to their home stations and the fire is now being handled by CalFire mostly. At the fires peak it there were units from ConFire, SRV, East CoCo, Mor/Or, AlCo Fire, Marin County Fire, and Cal Fire all working together (according to reports from CalFire). Aircraft came from Morgan Hill, Stockton, Columbia, Chico, and Redding.

103 Buck Million August 25, 2010 at 11:54 AM

3 years ago the Mayor did an article on the 30 year anniversary of the 77 Diablo fire:
http://claycord.blogspot.com/2008/06/31-years-later-revisiting-1977-fire.html

Seth added a lot to that discussion as well. He is truly an expert on Mount Diablo. I remember that fire very well myself. It was a summer of bad fires. That was also the year Big Sur burned (Marble-Cone fire).

104 Radar August 25, 2010 at 12:01 PM

Juan San Carlos, I dont care about a Pulitzer. I send the mayor lower rez pics because that’s all he needs. If he wants high rez pics I can send them.

105 Mount Diablo State Park closed August 25, 2010 at 12:11 PM

In answer to the inquiry about Regency access to the park, I just called Mount Diablo State Park phone number for park conditions, a person answered the phone. I asked whether the park was open, and she said “the park is closed.”

The numbers listed on the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association website http://www.mdia.org for Mount Diablo State Park information are:
Summit Weather (925) 838-9225
Recorded Park Information (925) 837-2525
Park conditions (925) 837-0904
or (925) 673-6129
Supervising Ranger (925) 855-1730

I am guessing there will not be a sign or anyone at Regency trailhead saying it is closed, but there are probably several reasons it will be helpful to keep people out of the park today. Some that I can think of are if the fire jumps the line so there won’t be people in the park who might be overtaken by fire before they can get out; often, when the temperature is high, people have unexpected heat-related problems on the mountain, and the resources to help in such a situation will be difficult to come by today; the rangers and firefighters and helicopters are involved with the fire, and can’t risk having to be pulled away from that if someone else gets hurt or runs into trouble unexpectedly in the park today.

You were wise to check rather than just trudging in without any effort to find out.

106 Relief Crews August 25, 2010 at 12:19 PM

At 8:15 a.m., I saw to clean, red, shiny Dept. of Corrections trucks with that appeared to be heading in. They were at the corner of Kirker Pass/Clayton Rd. and approaching from the Pittsburg direction.

107 Mt. versus Mount? August 25, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Snurmac indicated that it is incorrect to write Mt. Diablo rather than Mount Diablo. Are you saying the Mt. is not a proper abbreviation for Mount?

I was curious about that because I had not heard that before, but like to be knowledgeable about such things. I found mt. in the Cambridge International and Merriam-Webster dictionaries, and each said that mt. is the abbreviation for mountain. Do you have a different understanding or reason for it being incorrect? I want to find out so that I can write properly, but also I live on a street that has a name beginning with “Mt.”

108 Buck Million August 25, 2010 at 1:06 PM

John Hemm
“In nature, fire is a way of clearing old,dead brush, natures way of cleaning house. I say let it burn. The mountain and nature were there long before the eyesores that people call “homes” were established.”

So do you live in an eyesore dwelling called a home? Ahhh reciting the Sierra Club approach to maintaining our national and state forest. Let it burn and cleanse the forest the way nature meant it to be. On Mount Diablo that might be an acceptable approach because it isn’t covered in overcrowded dense forest.

California and the nation face a forest health and wildfire crisis. Many forests, particularly those on public lands, have grown dangerously overcrowded due to a century of fire suppression and decades of restricted timber harvesting. The Sierra Club set out to stop clear cutting. But in their usual way they are over the top in restricting all harvesting of the forest. Restricting all management of our national treasures under the guise of environmental scrutiny is destroying them for centuries to come.

In California, 37 million acres – or roughly 48 percent of the state’s land base – face very high or catastrophic extreme fire threats. These threats back up to 1100 California communities.

Leaving the forest alone, keeping them exactly like they are and letting nature take its course more often than not, end up incinerating the entire forest and every living thing within them. Efforts to manage California’s forests and reduce fuel loads are blocked by appeals and lawsuits by environmental groups – despite the fact that humans have allowed unnatural fuel loads to accumulate.

The forests that you want to leave to nature are not natural, so the fires that burn them are not natural either. Such “hands-off” attitudes, often inspired by the myth of the pristine forest, lead to inaction that fosters the kind of catastrophic fire (what use to be a very rare case) that we see on TV every summer.

109 Tommy V August 25, 2010 at 2:06 PM

is morgan territory rd open again?

110 Pamela August 25, 2010 at 3:03 PM

I live in Curry Canyon, right at the entrance, across from Camp Four Paws. We have not had power since the initial explosion yesterday around 4pm. Thanks to the lack of wind, the fire has been moving up the mountain rather than toward us. Fire crews from all over the state have been coming and going all night and all day now. I wish I could stop every truck on the way out of the canyon to thank them for working so hard in this heat.

111 Atticus Thraxx August 25, 2010 at 3:11 PM

God Bless the CDF.

112 Feckin Irish Mouse August 25, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Pamela,
just send a few prayers their way…………….The joint effort between fire agencies is always a beautiful thing to see.
Atticus add to your blessings San Ramon Valley Fire, Consolidated Fire, Fremont Fire, Marin Fire, East Contra Costa Fire, and all the other agencies that were part of this joint effort.

113 EMSchick August 25, 2010 at 5:04 PM

Looks like there are at least 2 helicopters working on the fire again, after taking the morning off. I was hoping it was almost completely out by now, but apparently not.

And yes, this is a rural area, but it is by no means uninhabited. The news stations continue to report on this fire as if there are no homes that could potentially be threatened, which is absolutely not true. Many homes are located off the main road, which may lead people to believe that there are fewer residents out here than there actually are. Considering that Mt. Diablo hasn’t burned since 1977, and since cattle have not been allowed to graze on the mountain for many years now, the chances of a large wildfire out here are huge. If it is not attacked with force by the fire crews at the very beginning, we risk endangering many homes, and possibly lives.

Thank you to all of the firefighters that are out here working to put this out. Especially in this heat! I do not envy their job at all.

114 ulogoni August 25, 2010 at 5:12 PM

It’s posts like Buck Million’s that make you wonder how forest ecosystems ever survived before the mighty logger appeared on the scene. Old-growth forests and larger diameter trees are the most fire resistant, yet these are the same trees that logging companies pri$e and therefore target for removal. Go figure.

Fire suppression is indeed an issue, but blaming conservation organizations for recognizing a money making scheme under the shameful guise of fire suppression (oh wait), and moving to protect the most integral trees vital to the biotic communities is a misleading straw man argument.

Commercial logging can and has actually caused catastrophic wildfires. That’s what happens when you open up the canopy to carve roads through and remove trees, disturbing naturally moist microclimates. That’s what happens when you bring tons of heavy equipment in to compact the soil so water no longer percolates through but instead pounds the ground sending sediment down to choke the local watersheds. That’s what happens when you remove all those old trees and other barriers to erosion. This is but a sliver of it.

Did you have a specific case in mind?

115 Paul August 25, 2010 at 5:30 PM

I spoke to the Rangers office today and Mount Diablo will be back open tomorrow. They just closed it down today because of the heat and to re-evaluate everything.

116 Radar August 25, 2010 at 6:28 PM

When I was out in Curry Canyon yesterday, I coudln’t help noticing that there were quite a few homes in the area. More than I expected. Don’t know if Id want to live there if a fire starts closer to them. I also noticed that convicts were walking in to fight the fire. All those who fought the fire rock!

117 james August 25, 2010 at 7:17 PM

Convicts???????????

118 "Dept. of Corrections" August 25, 2010 at 8:45 PM

The trucks I saw going in said “Dept. of Corrections” – and I wondered whether they volunteer for the firefighting, or whether they are just assigned to it. Either way, it’s a hot, dirty, grueling job for everyone who does it, and I appreciate everyone’s efforts.

119 James August 25, 2010 at 10:00 PM

Well I went hiking anyway and thanks to those who gave answers. The conditions were fine other then it being really hot but i was well watered and sweated a few pounds off. I saw a helicopter fly over me also and they were probably like who is this crazy guy?

120 Buck Million August 26, 2010 at 12:45 AM

ulogoni
“Commercial logging can and has actually caused catastrophic wildfires. That’s what happens when you open up the canopy to carve roads through and remove trees, disturbing naturally moist microclimates.

Typical Sierra club BS. You know what? There is nothing natural about our forest today? THAT’s where your argument falls right off the table. 200 years ago the low intensity fires were the natural way the forest were cleaned of fuel. When forest density was around 70 trees an acre it allowed the old growth to stay healthy and fires never reached the crown of trees. Enter humans into the scene with a century of fire suppression these forest have over grown to 10 times that density by suppressing fire. Some places in the Tahoe basin up to 1000 trees an acre.

The Sierra club had good intentions and did the right thing to stop the clear cutting of old growth in the 70’s. But in typical fashion they didn’t know where to stop. Now they fight ALL management of the forest, all harvesting of one of our greatest renewable natural resources. And when a forest incinerates such as in Tahoe a few years ago they fight all attempts to go in and salvage the dead trees that still have some value if salvaged quickly. But no, we cant have that. THey might make a road. If that happens all will be lost in your precious battle to keep out evil lumber companies. So the trees lay rotting, releasing all that carbon back into the atmosphere, inviting insect infestation to spread to nearby forest. Have you seen Tahoe lately? Whole mountainsides brown with dead forest from the beetle infestations.

With forests unnaturally dense, trees have barely enough moisture to produce the sap needed to keep out bark beetles even in relatively wet years. They cannot resist attack during dry years.

Harvesting on California’s public forest lands has dropped nearly 90 percent since 1990. We once exported lumber to others. Now California imports 75 % of the lumber we use.

The Sierra Club is not capable of finding a middle ground to allow man to manage our forest. Their policy is straight forward. Keep man out of the forest. Let fire take its natural course and all will be good. The problem with this is our natural treasures are NOT being cleansed with fire but incinerated in catastrophic firestorms. You don’t need to listen to me, just turn on your TV and witness it yourself. Another 3-5 million acres will be turned into moonscapes this year and the Sierra Club will be right there making sure no ones attempts cleaning them up.

The Angora fire in Tahoe should have been a wake up call. That was just the tip of the iceberg. Tahoe is in for a much larger disaster than that fire. Mark my words, Tahoe hasn’t seen nothing yet.

When you see a fire on TV and the fire is in the treetops, the crown of trees, everything under those trees are being burned alive. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the Sierra Club at some point over the last 30 years fought to allow man into that forest to manage it.

121 Buck Million August 26, 2010 at 12:51 AM

“That’s what happens when you bring tons of heavy equipment in to compact the soil so water no longer percolates through but instead pounds the ground sending sediment down to choke the local watersheds. That’s what happens when you remove all those old trees and other barriers to erosion. This is but a sliver of it.

Who said anything about removing all the old trees. Everything is all or nothing with you. What happens when a forest incinerates? EVERYTHING washes down the hill. What’s left? Scorched soil incapable of growing anything for a long time.

122 ulogoni August 26, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Buck,

If there are expansions of bark beetle outbreaks it would be due to a changing climate, not due to a decline in logging. Cold winters are the ultimate predator of these beetles. The warmer temperatures are not only allowing more to survive, but are also allowing populations to reach trees at higher elevations. Nothing short of reducing our emissions could even hope to stop that.

You would have to remove 50-80% of the trees to effectively reduce the impact of these beetles. Which is on par with the destruction of the outbreaks in the first place. That’s asinine. I’d fight any company tooth and nail that would first have to make an assumption about which particular stand is going to be hit so they can hit it first.

Logging carries with it a lot of environmental impacts without significantly influencing fire spread. Dead trees are important to forest ecology. Vital even. 45% of birds in North America depend on snags, and two thirds of all wildlife use dead trees.

The following is from this study: Recent Forest Insect Outbreaks and Fire Risk in Colorado Forests: A Brief Synthesis of Relevant Research for a good overview of beetle ecology and relationship to wildfire: http://spot.colorado.edu/~schoenna/images/RommeEtAl2006CFRI%20.pdf

“There is no evidence to support the idea that current levels of bark beetle or defoliator activity are unnaturally high. Similar outbreaks have occurred in the past. …Although it is widely believed that insect outbreaks set the stage for severe forest fires, the few scientific studies that support this idea report a very small effect, and other studies have found no relationship between insect outbreaks and subsequent fire activity… bark beetle outbreaks actually may reduce fire risk in some lodgepole pine forests once the dead needles fall from the trees.” – Romme et al.

You mentioned: Enter humans into the scene with a century of fire suppression these forest have over grown to 10 times that density by suppressing fire.

This is a poignant time to be speaking of this. As it was this very month, 100 years ago that the Great Fire of 1910 largely fueled these supression campaigns. Yes, the largest fire in U.S. history happened before all of this madness. As for density, it depends. Forests at higher elevations are naturally dense and there has not been significant changes to this due to fire suppression.

More great information in this powerpoint presentation by George Wuerthner:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySqngrG_H6M&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6sWLTfI9jw&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEJIUMwVyr4&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2jPQcG1ImI&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYlZtayRosE&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZsKXPfpiKc&feature=related

“As far as community protection is concerned, it is far more cost effective to reduce flammability of homes than to attempt to reduce the flammability of forests. Focus fire risk reduction in and near homes, not out in the backcountry.”

I’m not with the Sierra Club, by the way.

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