Updated: September 27, 2016
Over 40 Years of Fire Protection – Rescue – Emergency Medical Services
The Mission of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade is to provide dependable fire protection and emergency services for Big Sur with teamwork, respect and integrity
On July 26, 2016, Tom Torlakson, Acting Governor of the State of California has declared that a State of Emergency exists in both Los Angeles and Monterey Counties.
July 28, 2016: Bulldozer Operator Killed During the Soberanes Fire Identified as Robert Reagan III from Fresno County
August 2, 2016: Cause of Soberanes Fire released by CAL FIRE as an “unattended, illegal campfire” that started near the Soberanes Trail in Garrapata State Park.
September 3, 2016: The U.S. Forest Service has expanded the closure order in the Los Padres National Forest due to the Soberanes Fire to the entire Monterey Ranger District. Click here for additional information.
August 25, 2016: Aircraft, both fixed wing and rotary, play a critical role in the suppression of wildland fires. Ever wonder about the types of aircraft used during a wildland fire? Check out the Firefighting Aircraft Recognition Guide provided by CAL FIRE.
September 16, 2016: Due to the ongoing Soberanes Fire currently burning in the Los Padres National Forest, the 2016 Big Sur River Run scheduled for October 22, 2016, at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has been canceled. For more information on the cancellation, click here for the Press Release.
The “Soberanes Fire” started along the Big Sur coast on July 22, 2016 at 8:48 AM in Garrapata State Park. The fire is now moving south and southeast through the Los Padres National Forest and Ventana Wilderness. On the southwest front, the fire is being controlled to the northeast of the North Coast Ridge Road south of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park near Hot Springs Canyon. On the southeast front, the fire is approaching the Arroyo Seco area and is now to the west and south of the Tassajara Mountain Zen Center at the end of Tassajara Road.
The major focus at this time is to monitor fire activity, construct and maintain established control lines, and take direct action against the fire as it continues to move southeast through the LPF and wilderness areas. Structure protection activities continue for threatened properties including the Chews Ridge area, Tassajara Zen Center, residents along Tassajara Road, Arroyo Seco, and residents along the North Coast Ridge Road. This is being accomplished by direct attack on the fire, construction and reinforcement of fire breaks, and back burning operations.
On July 26, 2016, a State of Emergency was declared for Monterey County by Acting Governor Tom Torlakson. On August 2, 2016, CAL FIRE announced the cause of the fire as an “unattended, illegal campfire” that started near the Soberanes Canyon Trail in Garrapata State Park.
According to California Interagency Incident Management Team #4, as of September 27, 2016, at 7:35 AM, the fire has consumed 128,380 acres, which places the Soberanes Fire as #18 on the “Top Twenty Largest California Wildfires” list in terms of acreage burned. There are now three fires originating in Monterey County on the top twenty list.
The Soberanes Fire has burned 91,186 acres within the jurisdiction U.S. Forest Service. The fire is now 81% contained as it moves through inaccessible areas of the Los Padres Forest and the Ventana Wilderness. Expected containment is on September 30, 2016, but can be adjusted based on changing conditions. Many miles of dozer generated containment lines are being constructed to stop the fire’s spread. Total personnel assigned to the incident is at 2,048 with resources now being re-assigned to other fires or released as containment of the fire increases. The fire has caused one fatality, six injuries, and three vehicles have been destroyed. The fire has taken a toll on personnel with over 500 cases of firefighters with poison oak ailments reporting to the medical unit.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the Soberanes Fire is now the costliest fire in U.S. history at over 210 million dollars. According the the management team, there are over 100 miles of containment lines in place. At full containment, total length of containment lines is estimated at 191 miles and total acreage burned is estimated to be nearly 180,000. Full extinguishment is expected to come from a “season ending event,” meaning when there is rain or snowfall later in the year. At this time, it is predicted that sufficient rainfall needed for complete extinguishment won’t occur until mid November or early December.
Highway 1 through the Big Sur area remains open but is subject to closure at any time due to potential fire activity or planned burning operations. All business in the Big Sur area are reported to be open. Several State Parks between, and including Garrapata State Park and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are closed along with many Forest Service campgrounds and day use areas in or near the affected fire area. Some State and County Parks in the area are reopening, either completely or partially, near the outlying areas of the Soberanes Fire based on current conditions. Garland Ranch Regional Park in Carmel Valley has now reopened. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park has reopened partially, mostly on the west side of Highway 1. Garrapata State Park has reopened partially on the west side of Highway 1 only. The Big Sur Lighthouse has resumed scheduled tours. The lodge at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has now reopened but the camping and day use area remains closed. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve has reopened. The U.S. Forest has issued a closure order for all trails and roads in the Los Padres National Forest of the Monterey Ranger District including Milpitas Road, Indians Campground / Memorial Park, and the Arroyo Seco Day Use and camping area.
These evacuations orders and warnings are based on available information from the Soberanes Fire Incident Management Team and can change rapidly based on current or expected fire conditions. Evacuation orders, warnings, and road closures, may occur with very little notice due to changing conditions.
- Tassajara Road from Carmel Valley to the Tassajara Hot Springs Zen Center, and roads that leave Tassajara Road.
- Residents southwest of East Carmel Valley Road from the intersection of East Carmel Valley Road and Piney Creek Road extending to Arroyo Seco Road.
Milpitas Road from the Los Padres National Forest boundary to the Indians Campground.
A total of 57 residences and 11 outbuildings have been destroyed. Three residences and two outbuildings have been damaged and 410 structures remained threatened. A Burned Area Emergency Response Team (BAER) is conducting assessments on the northern portion of the fire. The program addresses the threats of erosion, flash flooding and many other issues with the goal of protecting life, property, water quality, endangered species and deteriorated ecosystems from further damage after the fire.
Incident Base Camps have been established at Toro County Regional Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and Andrew Molera State Park. The main Incident Command Post remains at Toro County Regional Park. A helibase has been established at Andrew Molera State Park. Additional resource staging areas have been established at various locations around the perimeter of the fire. Roads around these Base Camps can experience a significant amount of emergency vehicle traffic. Please use caution when driving near these areas. Additional information on the fire can be found at the following links:
The following agencies and organizations are accepting donations or involved in efforts for the Soberanes Fire Relief:
Our annual Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade fund raising BBQ was held on June 11th at Pfeiffier Big Sur State Park and was a huge success. Nearly 250 people attended and everyone had a great time. Thanks to all the people and agencies who helped with making this event happen. It would not have been possible without your tremendous efforts. Check out our Photo Gallery Page for more pictures of this great event.
For the latest road conditions in the Big Sur area, check the CALTRANS Road Conditions website.
The latest Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade News! Read it here in the: September 2016 Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade Round Up
Learn what you can do to protect your home and property from Wildfire!
Read about the Big Sur Fire of 1906 from the Spring 2004 edition of the Double Cone Quarterly
Effective June 14, 2016, fire restrictions have been imposed in the Los Padres National Forest. Chick here for additional information.
Check out all the things to do in Big Sur in the 2016 – 2017 Big Sur Guide provided by the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce.
National Fire Prevention Week is October 9 – 15, 2016. First recognized in 1922 by then President Warren Harding, the theme for the 2016 Fire Prevention Week is “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms.” According to the National Fire Protection Association, ” Smoke alarms save lives. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.” For more information on smoke alarms and fire prevention practices, check out the websites of the National Fire Protection Association or the United States Fire Fire Administration. And, don’t forget to change the batteries in your smoke alarms when we change our clocks back to standard time on November 6, 2016.
Honoring One of Our Own!
On January 16, 2014, the Monterey County Fire Chiefs Association held their annual awards luncheon in Castroville, CA. We our extremely pleased to announce that our own Fire Chief, Martha Karstens was the recipient of the 2013 Volunteer Firefighter of the Year Award. Chief Karstens was acknowledged for her tremendous dedication to the fire service in Monterey County by serving on several regional fire service committees and continually supporting the efforts to improve the delivery of fire protection to the residents of Big Sur and the entire Monterey County. Chief Karstens is well deserving of this award and we are extremely proud of her dedication and commitment to the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade and the Big Sur Community.
Donations are Welcomed and Appreciated:
We understand completely how it can seem overwhelming with all the requests for donations from the many worthy organizations out there, especially during the holiday season. Well, the reality is that many non-profit organizations simply would not exist if it were not for the generous donations and support from people like yourselves. Indeed, we are one of those organizations. Since we receive no governmental funding, our existence, and our ability to serve the Big Sur community, and the numerous visitors, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, comes primarily from very much appreciated private donations. We are here to serve the Big Sur Community to the best of our ability and we need your help to do just that. Please consider a donation in any amount to help us maintain a vital service to the Big Sur community and our visitors. Please click on the “SUPPORT US“ tab at the top of this page for ways to support the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade. Click below to view our annual donation request letter from Fire Chief, Martha Karstens and thanks for your past and continued support of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade.
A very special thank you to all the participants and volunteers that helped make the 35th annual Big Sur River Run on October 28, 2015 a huge success. With your outstanding efforts, and thanks to the local donations and matching grants from the Nepenthe Restaurant, we raised nearly $85,000 dollars for the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade and the Big Sur Health Center. Well done everyone! Join us for the 36th annual Big Sur River Run on Saturday October 22, 2016 at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
The Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed in 1974 to provide structure fire protection for the residents and businesses in the Big Sur area. The Brigade now provides both structure and wildland fire protection, along with rescue and emergency medical response for the Big Sur Community and its over 4 million annual visitors. The Brigade remains an all-volunteer company, with about 20 members, responding to an area which covers 60 miles of coastline along Highway One.
How We Are Funded:
We are funded almost entirely by grants and donations from fundraising activities such as our Big Sur River Run, our annual BBQ and Firefighter’s Muster, the Big Sur Marathon, and the Nepenthe Halloween Bal Masque. We also send out a fundraising letter each year requesting support from our local residents. We welcome any and all donations as we are continually trying to upgrade our equipment and emergency response capabilities.
Contributions such as cash, appreciated stock, in-kind professional services, and used vehicles and equipment have in the past helped us build our capabilities for emergency response. If you would like to contact us about making a donation, our address is:
P.O. Box 520
Big Sur, CA. 93920
As a non-profit, Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) organization, tax-exempt number 94-2840361, and registered to solicit donations in the state of California, your donation will be gladly accepted. To make a tax deductible donation to the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade by credit card or using Pay Pal, click on the “Support Us” tab above.
Local business where you can purchase Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade clothing and apparel:
News and updates from the Big Sur Community Emergency Response Team: (Big Sur CERT)
Information and local events in the Big Sur Community from the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce:
Information and news from the Coast Property Owners Association (CPOA):