Soberanes Fire


Reflecting on the Soberanes Fire, One Year Later, KSBW, July 22, 2017
Soberanes Fire Anniversary: No Time to Reflect, Monterey Herald, July 16, 2017


The following was the final Soberanes Fire Update as posted on the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade website on October 21, 2016:

Flyer with logos
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.  Proclamation of a State of Emergency, July 26, 2016


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.


October 10, 2016:  Garrapata State Park is expected to remained closed due to the Soberanes Fire until the Spring of 2017.  Click here for the News Release.


Soberanes Fire Update: October 21, 2016 at 8:00 AM:

Photo by Noah Berger. Firefighting in Carmel Highlands during the Soberanes, July 25, 2016.

Photo by Noah Berger. Firefighting in Carmel Highlands during the Soberanes, July 25, 2016.

The “Soberanes Fire” started along the Big Sur coast on July 22, 2016 at 8:48 AM in Garrapata State Park.  Although the fire did move to the north for several miles, the main fire front moved in a southeastern direction for nearly 40 miles.  Forward progress of the fire has been stopped and any remaining active fire is well within the containment lines. The southwest perimeter of the fire is northeast of the North Coast Ridge Road south of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park near Hot Springs Canyon.  The southeast perimeter is north of the Arroyo Seco area and is west and south of the Tassajara Mountain Zen Center at the end of Tassajara Road.  

The fire is now 100% contained and in a patrol status. Suppression repair is the focus, and will continue until it is complete. Dozer and hand line repairs are being conducted in the north and south zones.  92% of the suppression repair work is now complete with 349 out of 381 miles repaired. Work around Arroyo Seco is expected to be completed in the next few days. Resource specialists are working with fire managers to ensure roads will be in good shape and will withstand the winter weather.

The South Central Sierra Incident Management Team took control of the incident at 0600 hours on October 13, 2016. According to the management team, as of October 20, 2016, at 8:00 AM, the fire has consumed 132,127 acres, which places the Soberanes Fire as #18 on the “Top Twenty Largest California Wildfires” list in terms of acres burned. There are now three fires originating in Monterey County  on the top twenty list. The Soberanes Fire has burned 94,933 acres within the jurisdiction U.S. Forest Service.CpGeFWpUEAAQSp3

Total  personnel assigned to the incident is at 256. There were over 5,000 personnel assigned at the height of the incident.  The fire has caused 1 fatality, 12 injuries, and 3 vehicles have been destroyed.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the Soberanes Fire is one of the costliest fires in U.S. history at over 235 million dollars in terms of direct firefighting costs.  According the the management team, there are nearly 180 miles of containment lines in place.  Full extinguishment is expected to come from a “season ending event,” meaning when there is rain or snowfall later in the year.

Highway 1 through Big Sur is open and 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. Garrapata State Park has reopened partially on the west side of Highway 1 only. The east side of Garrapata State Park is not expected to open until the Spring of 2017.  The 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 is still effect.

A total of 57 residences and 11 outbuildings have been destroyed. There have been 3 residences and 2 outbuildings have been damaged and currently no structures are threatened. A Burned Area Emergency Response Team (BAER) is conducting assessments throughout the fire area.  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.

Additional information on the fire can be found at the following links:CoN290RVUAA1ITI.jpg large

Burned Area Emergency Response – Soberanes Fire

Los Padres National Forest – Inci Web – Soberanes Fire

CAL FIRE Incident Information – Soberanes Fire

Twitter – #Soberanes Fire

CAL FIRE San Benito / Monterey County Ranger District – Twitter

United States Forest Service – Monterey Ranger District

Xasauan Today – Soberanes Fire

Big Sur Kate – Soberanes Fire

Big Sur Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) – Soberanes Fire


How You Can Help:

The following agencies and organizations are accepting donations or involved in efforts for the Soberanes Fire Relief:

Coast Property Owners Association13895240_1025876487527707_7236802296772481866_n

Mid Coast Fire Brigade

Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade

Community Foundation of the Monterey Peninsula

Monterey County Community Resilience Program

Carmel Community Pay it Forward Force – Soberanes Fire

Go Fund Me – Soberanes Fire Bereavement Fund

Big Sur Community Emergency Response Team