UPDATE: Mt. Diablo Rehabilitation Efforts Begin as Morgan Fire Dies Down

September 11, 2013 20:35 pm · 36 comments


Firefighters are continuing to tackle the Morgan Fire on Mount Diablo as containment reached 80% today, a Cal Fire spokeswoman said.

“Today’s focus is on keeping that containment,” Cal Fire spokeswoman Tina Rose said. The fire has burned an estimated 3,133 acres since it was first reported around 1 p.m. Sunday.

The fire initially started off of Morgan Territory Road near Mount Diablo State Park, southeast of Clayton. “It’s no longer spreading,”

Rose said. “It’s not getting bigger.” Full containment is expected Friday.

However, she cautioned that “all it takes is one little gust of wind” to spark a new fire from smoldering embers.

She said there are still burning tress, brush and other debris along the slopes of the mountain.

“Any little spark is going to spread quickly on that mountain,” Rose said.

Hot temperatures, dry conditions and wind have been complicating battling the wildfire, she said.

Alongside fire suppression efforts, crews are working on rehabilitation, Rose said.

She said the blaze has burned off vegetation that can lead to erosion once the rains arrive.

She said re-seeding, tree planting and other forest remedies will be part of a long process that needs to start immediately.

“It’s not going to be very long until the winter rains start coming,” she said.

Rose advised residents that crews are still battling the fire and roads may get clogged.

She said residents should expect to be sharing the road with large equipment.

“Please slow down and be patient,” Rose said. More than 1,370 fire personnel from more than a dozen agencies responded to the fire.

Some crews were starting to leave the area this morning as the fire died down. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries battling the blaze, and one communications shed was destroyed, Rose said.

Other infrastructure, such as communication towers on the peak of the mountain, was spared, Rose said.

The cause of the wildfire is under investigation. A smoke advisory issued by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District remains in effect today, air district spokesman Tom Flannigan said.

He said the advisory would likely remain in effect “as long as there are flames.”

The advisory is a reminder for residents, especially those in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, that air quality is compromised by smoke from the blaze.

The air district has advised residents, especially those with respiratory problems, to limit their outdoor exposure.

Flannigan said there have been no reports of residents suffering health problems because of the smoke.

ML September 11, 2013 at 8:42 PM

Mr. Mayor, I spend a good deal of time on Mt. Diablo. Being there is one of the great pleasures of my life, so I will happily give a little back to the mountain. If you hear of opportunities for involvement in seeding and planting on the mountain, please post them! I’m here everyday, I’ll see them. Some other reader will certainly be aware of such opportunities.

Monica Campbell September 11, 2013 at 8:45 PM

“re-seeding, tree planting and other forest remedies will be part of a long process that needs to start immediately.”
Please let us know if the community will be able to help in this process; if there is a community group we can join to help out.
Thank you, Monica

cheryl bradley September 11, 2013 at 9:02 PM


Triple Canopy September 11, 2013 at 9:05 PM

Rehab? Why would nature need rehab in this case? Human intervention is unnecessary. Wildfires have occurred since the dawn of time. The best thing to do is to LEAVE IT ALONE AND LET NATURE RECOVER ON ITS OWN.

Humans think they need to participate in everything to make it better. All human intervention will do is disturb the natural order of recovery.

NotEntitled September 11, 2013 at 9:16 PM

Who do we contact if we want to volunteer for the rehab project?

applejack September 11, 2013 at 9:46 PM

I agree with Triple!

guru September 11, 2013 at 10:17 PM

+1 triple

Michelle September 11, 2013 at 10:24 PM

I agree with Tripe also!!!…leave it alone!…let nature take it’s course.

Anon2ualso September 11, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Agree also with triple

Claycordite September 11, 2013 at 10:33 PM

It sounds to me that there is a concern re: erosion. If the experts say there is a need for reforestation, then there is a need for reforestation! Thanks in advance to those of you who can be a part of the community effort to rehab our mountain.

Jill September 11, 2013 at 10:59 PM

I can take a wee animal. I can do that for sure.

Momma Kat September 11, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Don’t mess with Mother Nature. Experts, please. Taking the cows off the mountain was an experts opinion. Cause hikers didn’t like stepping over patties. Puuulease. They were the best fire prevention and free. Now look what happens. Let nature run its course, we humans are messin’ where we don’t belong. Just saying.

funny guy September 12, 2013 at 1:09 AM

no reports says Mr flimflanagan, I’ve been wheezing and hacking all week. my chest has hurt and I’m trying to stay indoors with the HEPA filter turned on high.

Charles-the-cat September 12, 2013 at 1:30 AM

I am guessing that human-directed rehabilitation is needed to ensure that the mountain is repopulated with appropriate native flora and doesn’t get overrun with aggressive, non-native plants.

Stephenie Morris September 12, 2013 at 1:57 AM

Thank God for the web! I live in Oregon but grew up in the Mt Diablo area. The mountain not only was a place to recreate but was like an emblem of pride. This is sad news but not the first fire nor the last to hit the beloved mountain. She will survive and probably even thrive stronger than before.
God Bless all the workers and those whose hms were burned or lost.

The Mamba September 12, 2013 at 7:10 AM

I’m going to head up there and go mountain biking this weekend, its been too long and I’d like to see what happened up close.

A grateful neighbor in seven oaks September 12, 2013 at 7:24 AM

I would like to help

Just another Concord Resident September 12, 2013 at 7:32 AM

Since this was not a “wildfire” by definition, then yes, we need to at least start the process by re forestation. Give nature 100 or more years to re create the environment and then we can sit back and allow nature to decide which plants mature and which die out. This fire, since it was not part of the “natural” landscape, reached temperatures that only sterilized the soil, there are no viable seeds left to sprout. So, man must step in to help nature re establish plant life and an ecosystem. Take a few Horticulture classes before you start talking about wildfires, you will soon learn the difference.

Concord Mike September 12, 2013 at 7:39 AM

Great time to get the bulldozers and cut in some fire roads about half way up the mountain, and ideally get some more paved roads up there and expand the number of camp grounds with some irrigated landscaping.

This fire would not have been so disasterous if the mountain was managed more like a park and not just left to grow wild.

Rollo Tomasi September 12, 2013 at 8:04 AM

Where have you people been lately? Don’t you all know by now that we know how to tend to nature FAR better than Mother Nature herself?

julie wessman September 12, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Thank you firemen for your tireless effort and dedication!! You are all hero’s !! Some of you told me Jacks weed/grass control around his home made it “highly defendable”.. it’s a shame state park land does’nt have weed abatement programs or cattle to help control vegitation. That might have made your job much easier.

Sprarsa Evure September 12, 2013 at 8:27 AM

yes, it’s time to let nature take it’s course. The fire fighters were great–but nature is a wonderful thing.

me September 12, 2013 at 8:34 AM

Triple Canopy…
Rehab is necessary in large part due to the suppression effort- bulldozers made mane containment lines that are now void of vegetation. If rehabilitation is not done the dozer lines will be eroding and clogging seasonal creeks causing further erosion and sedimentation downstream killing natural/desirable species. Furthermore, if the dozer lines aren’t rehabbed they will basically be weed patches (i.e., full of non-native plants). Since Mount Diablo is a place that has several species of plants that aren’t found anywhere else in the world it is very important to rehab the fire damaged land so that those plants can continue to thrive. Mount Diablo is a special place to many people (as has been evident from the community concern/support during the fire suppression effort).

If this had been a naturally occurring fire (lightning), in an area that has experienced periodic fires and no suppression effort made (i.e., no bulldozers, or handlines made) then I would fully support not rehabilitating the land, but this is not the case for this particular fire.

me September 12, 2013 at 8:41 AM

Momma Kat
If you get a chance to see where the fire burned you will quickly realize that cattle grazing (or the lack of it) played absolutely no role in the suppression of this fire. Until we can encourage cows to eat oak trees, buck brush, ceanothus and pine trees the cows won’t be helping much. While there is a lot of grassland on Mount Diablo this fire burned very little grass land. We will also need to teach the cows to start learning how to walk on terrain that they have previously have not been able to cover because the main “run” on this fire that caused it to be so damaging was on terrain that is extremely steep. I would recommend that you drive out to Marsh Creek Road and Morgan Territory Road and look at the hill side where the fire started and then tell me that we should have cows grazing up there.

Cowellian September 12, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Nature will take care of Mt. Diablo:

Wildlife winners, losers in Mt. Diablo fire

First came the dread and destruction. Now comes the rebirth and wonder.

The wildfire that just spent four days rampaging through Mount Diablo’s craggy slopes left behind 3,100 acres of ash where nature lovers once hiked in thick brushland – but it was great news for ravenous predators and wildflower fans.

And in the end, the fire is just part of the normal life cycle of a chaparral landscape, where occasional blazes are required to clean out scrubby overgrowth and regenerate environmental diversity, wildland experts said Wednesday. Some pine trees on the mountain even require flames for their cones to pop open.

The immediate benefit is clear to the mountain lions, coyotes and red-tailed hawks for which Mount Diablo has suddenly turned into a gigantic, flame-broiled buffet. The thousands of ground squirrels and other lesser critters they victimize for chow are so dazed and displaced that their scurrying little bodies are more available than ever, naturalists say.

Rare blooms
But next spring is when the visual feast comes in. The burned mountainside will be carpeted with two types of flowers not seen since the last big wildfire in the state park, in 1977: orange-colored fire poppies and yellow-colored golden eardrops.

They grow only after intense fires, and there will be millions of them in the burn area, said environmentalist Seth Adams. You’d better catch a view while you can, because they will all be gone again in a couple of years. …

SFGate: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Wildlife-winners-losers-in-Mt-Diablo-fire-4807527.php

crystal September 12, 2013 at 9:13 AM

I agree with triple but, Rains, erosion, slids, some rehab has to happen by roads or more money will have to be spent ,if it starts to destroy the roads. Then we will hear all the complianing about road closures and other problems. With death comes new life i whole heartedly agree the mountian will fix itself, a little help around the roads to keep people safe.

crystal September 12, 2013 at 9:14 AM

Hay momma kat;)

Connie Dobbs September 12, 2013 at 9:17 AM

“Flannigan said there have been no reports of residents suffering health problems because of the smoke.”

Because it wasn’t coming from the neighbor’s fireplace?

Cowellian September 12, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Connie says more in one line than a lot of people can cram into a dissertation.

Rollo Tomasi September 12, 2013 at 10:35 AM


You said it, brother. Some of her best work happens over on the politics thread. Leaves those dissertation writers scratching their collective…

ML September 12, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Ok, I agree we let nature take it’s course, because nature does better than man at developing an ecosystem. But with a caveat: for this to work we have to let nature take it’s course on the whole ecosystem. So we get rid of all development, all technology, anything that diverges from nature’s course. If we don’t do that, then nature’s balance can’t be reached. In that case I’ll just give nature a helping hand.

Triple Canopy September 12, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Erosion is part of the natural course. It’s called GEOLOGICAL CHANGE.

.. it’s only an issue because of your anthrocentric (human-focused) perspectives.

Cowellian September 12, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Somebody thought they were giving nature a helping hand when they introduced Eucalyptus trees to the area.

WC Williams September 12, 2013 at 12:58 PM

About a dozen Cal Fire trucks passed on their way home down YVR this morning. Glad they are all okay.

J. September 12, 2013 at 9:38 PM

Jack London planted 100,000 Eucalyptus trees on his ranch.

nina September 13, 2013 at 6:53 PM

thank you firefighters for all your hard work. I don’t know how you do it!

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