Sunday August 23, 2020 Guerneville CA.
Another forest fire day
Once I got it going and went outside this morning I walked across the road to one of my brother Tom’s houses where he and brother Barry were working on doing some fire prevention around the house. They worked on stuff like that all day. Note the heavy smoke meaning something is going on that might be a bit more serious.
Looking up towards the state park it was real smoky too. I think the fires are creeping in slowly.
After talking with my brothers I went back to my house and was tending the chickens and sitting in the pen when I heard a truck in the yard.
Neighbor needs some help
It turned out to be a local guy Rick Decarly asking me to do a favor for Andy Strode a dozer operator working on the fire. He was coming over and needed to run his cat up into our property to cut some fire breaks. Rick wanted me to flag the way up the hill for him so he gave me some pink tape and I set to it. Rick left in his white truck but I’d see him later.
Placing the pink tape
I jumped on the dirt bike and rode up the hill land placed the tape for him to follow up the hill. I was going to meet him when he showed up which I thought was going to be real soon.
Didn’t show up
But he didn’t show up and I was wondering where he was as I didn’t want to wait for him all day as I had stuff I wanted to do.
Let’s ride down to the Guerneville fire house
After a bit I decided to ride the dirt bike into Guerneville to see if anyone at the fire department knew what was going on. So off I went knowing there where cops there blocking the road to the fire on Armstrong Woods road where I live.
I rode on to the fire department. There were some guys outside talking so I went up and inquired about Andy and his cat tractor. One of hem turned out to be the boss. They thought he was already out there so I left and went back home to find him. I’ll deal with the cops a bit later.
Well he wasn’t there so eventually I rode back to the fire department again to see if I could get some more info but the guys that might have the info had left so I went back home again.
Fire guys show up
When I got back home I found some guys were there with a fire truck to protect our houses and needed to look around so they knew what to expect at each house. Them coming by meant the fire was getting more serious in our area.
We showed them around and gave them information about things.
I was getting impatient waiting for Andy with his bull dozer as he hadn’t shown yet.
So I had an idea to go back to the fire station and ride up the cemetery hill to a friends that might have Rick Decarly’s phone number.
Sooooooooooooooo, I walked over to the cop car check point and told them I’m heading out and plan to ride my bike up the hill by them and please don’t’ chase me. They were good guys and nice so I got the bike and rode up the hill to John S. But no one was home so I went home again as I know with the fire stuff plans change often as the fire changes.
Headed to the Hermit’s place
I wanted to ride up and check out the hermit’s place and see how the fire was doing coming into the park. I told my brothers I was going and for them to catch the Andy dozer guy if he showed up as I only expected to be up there a little over a half hour so, I’d be back soon.
I rode up through the picnic grounds which was still looking fireless.
Park shop maintenance area
I wanted to see if the fire we checked had come down to the maintenance shop over the night and what was going on with it. I could see some park guys spraying water on the grass. I talked with Brandon and he said the fire came down during the night and nothing got burned. There was still some unburned grass that they were hosing down just in case.
So after a chat I hopped on the bike and rode on up the hill to the hermit’s road in.
There was still some small fires actively burning as I rode on by.
A pretty good burn had gone through here in the first days of the fire.
I turned into Nathan’s road on the left here. Things were pretty much burned on the ground but most of the trees still had leaves indicating it was a slow burn.
At his gate
I stopped here in front of his downed gate up ahead on the road.
His house was still standing as I’d heard.
But his unoccupied rental burned to the ground.
I left and rode out the road some more as I wanted to check on some houses and also try and see what the fire was doing as my house was on the end of the ridge from here.
Checking some houses
A friend had asked that I check on an area called the Hill’s place which I could sorta see from the ridge top except for all the smoke. I could see parts down there not burned and parts burned so I can’t say for sure about the houses, but my guess is they may be still standing as fire trucks would be at them when the fire was there and it’s still possible the fire may burn more down there. Just can’t tell for sure with all the smoke today. But what I’ve seen so far they’ve saved most of the houses in the area where fire has hit.
This is what’s left of Katherine William’s place unfortunately.
She also has another house that is a rental that is occupied, well not at the moment. I rode on down to it as it has a very good overlook of some of the fire
I rode on down to the house on this road.
The house had made it so she still has a place to stay, but the renter may not.
This was looking up the road I rode down to the house where I’m parked. Usually the fire guys try to get to each house during the peak time the fire is there to save it and they’ve been mostly saving them.
Checking out the fire
I looked down to see how the fire was doing as this ridge is the one that comes down by my house. It didn’t look good as the smoke on the left was getting hotter and could come down the ridge soon maybe. The smoke on the right is the smoke in the park up on a ridge top and it’s heating up too and even over to the right at the upper Hulbert creek were I was at the Buchanan place.
I headed on down the road and tried to take this trail in the park which goes down the ridge but I ran into too much fire up ahead and turned back.
This little fire was burning in the big tree making a lot of noise so I stopped to check it out and see if I could put it out.
I tried to stuff some dirt in the hole but it didn’t help. It turned out there was another bigger hole on the other side and it was acting like a chimney.
I rode down the hill a little further so check out the smoke on my ridge which looked like this. The fire appeared to be working it’s way down the ridge slowly but it seemed to be picking up.
Continuing on down the main road I went by these small fires. Most of this area was already burned so it shouldn’t go far here.
I rode back to the park maintenance shed to let Brandon a park guy know what I’d seen. The fire had burned down to here and still is a little. You can see the guys putting water on the grass in the back there.
So I told Brandon about the fire getting hotter right above him and it’s moving off to the right of him and around him so he could pass that on to someone.
Big trees get some help
We shot the bull for a bit and I asked him if when he got a chance he could take his water trailer up to where I saw the burning redwoods and give them a shot of water to put the fires out as the trees would really appreciate it. He said he was headed up there as things were mostly done at this spot.
Just as I was ready to leave this fire truck pulls in so I waited a bit to see what they had to say and I told him about the fire up above.
They’d pulled in to top off their water as they were moving somewhere else.
I rode on home down through the park.
Andy is here
When I got home and shut the bike off I could hear a dozer up in the hills so I hopped back on the bike and rode up to find it.
Here’s the guy I wanted to meet up with this morning. Andy Strode who lives down the road but is working for the fire guys at the moment. He’s opening up an old logging skid trail to the top to make a fire line or what’s called a fire break, someplace to help stop the fire.
He stopped so we could have a pow-wow to figure out which way was the best to go for what he wants to do.
Put to work
At that time he suggested I go back down and use my bulldozer to clear all the grass and debrie out of our old orchard. I said I’ll get it done.
He took off working away. That’s a corner of the park where it meets our family property.
Rick Decarly who I’d talked with this morning also showed up in his truck.
Why Andy was late
He said sorry Andy didn’t show up sooner this morning because yesterday his buddy Jim turned his dozer over and he showed me pics on his phone.
Here’s the turned over dozer with two more dozers there to get him turned back over.
The dozers used cables to right the turned over dozer and in the process of it all, messed up his night lights.
He was late today as he wanted to get his night lights going as he planned to work all night.
Getting to work
Well now, I needed to get our dozer fueled and put some transmission oil in it to get it ready to go and Tom helped me get the diesel and oil from the house.
Getting the dozer ready to roll.
It was a long slow dusty process clearing the grass and debrie in the orchard. I worked until it got too dark to see, getting most of it done.
I’ll have to do a little more on it tomorrow and maybe do a few more places too as long as I’m at it.
Choppers show up big time
Just as I started to work the dozer the choppers with water drop buckets came in and started hauling water for quite some time but I was on the dozer so couldn’t hear or see them most of the time. I think they were giving support to the guys over at upper Hubert Creek as that was getting to be a hot spot and getting close to some houses down there. I think we’ll be seeing more of them soon.
I saw this one and then I had to get to work but they kept at it.
One never knows what a day will bring in a forest fire. It looks and sounds like things are as heating up and some fire is headed this way and may be here soon. Not to worry, I think we’ll be safe and have a lot of help from the fire guys when it comes.
Turned out to be an adventurous day for a nice one.
It’s almost midnight and I can hear Andy and his dozer has come up working where I was today likely heading home soon, maybe, maybe not as he might have gone back up into the hills where I can’t hear him as he said he was going to work all night.
It’s 12:30 and all is quiet outside and I’m off to bed.
What a great help you are! I’m sure folks in the area and professional crew appreciate it!
So glad to see the hermit’s house is still intact. Sad about Katherine’s place though. Good thing she has a rental.
much love to you bob for helping save the park and sharing your adventures.
your blog is fantastic.
How much did you get from the state when you pimped out your brother Barry. Ha Ha
Thanks Bob. It’s great to know my husband isn’t just sitting home eating bon bons. Many thanks to Andy and all the men and women working to save our little bit of heaven.
Great job Bob, Barry. Andy. Wonderful effort.
Hi, Bob. I lived on Sweetwater from 73 to 95 and still have friends up there. Our address was 19000 and our friend is at 18755. I have been following you from my house in Graton and then from SF where I went yesterday. I would really like to see you tell us the name of the roads and approximate addresses you are at when you can.
The little old farmhouse and barn on the flat, uphill from the mine was the home of our commune from 1972 til about 1997. I built a little cabin up in the ravine that traveled up the dirt road from just past the farmhouse to the road across the ridge on which that house made of 4 domes stood. I hear it burned down. It belonged to a woman named Sharon but I was part of the gang that built it. A man named Dwight Carey has a house on the same side of the road above the dirt road that heads off over the ridge and ends in a house out on a knoll that looms above the mine.
Across from us while we lived there, the Staub family moved in after a religious order had bought the land from the Hills family. Just up the hill on that side, 760 acres belonged to a guy named Solomon Kagin who lost all his land. David and Erle bought one of the parcels and they are wonderful people who we know just lost their house. They had a fire in 1997, too and rebuilt.
I have been wondering about the Klauenbirches and Laura and Robert Parent up inside the state recreation area.
Last time I was up there was on Fathers’ day with my son Ben who lives in Port Angeles. He and his older sister spent their early years living on Sweetwater. We would hunt for chanterelless which grew right near our house.
So, thank you for all this, Bob.
Thank you Bob! It’s nice to see our office and know how close things are getting! So sorry to see the lost homes.
Appreciate this update, I checked your blog many times to see if you had an update.
Thoughts and prayers are with all who are near these terrible fires, the firefighters/first responders, and those like you who are doing your part to assist and help. Take care and stay safe.
Amazing post, Bob.
So good of you to drive around and keep the guys informed of what’s up. That’s a biggie in the fire business. We had two of our cats on fire patrol in the Sierras and luckily didn’t turn any over, but it’s SO easy to do, especially when working on hills. I’m glad all that got hurt was his lights. Keep pushing dirt … it will definitely be worth it in the end. Hope you all remain safe.
Way to go Bob. I wish I was out there to help you guys. I’m paying close attention to your reports. Looks like you are doing about all you can. Keep up the good work