Monday August 24, 2020 Guerneville CA.
Another forest fire day
I got it going earlier than usual this morning just after 8. I thought I better get with it as things were progressing with the fire around here at an increased pace.
Where’s the fires
I wasn’t sure where the fire was around us so I thought I better hop on the dirt bike and go have a look.
Armstrong State Park
I headed up into Armstrong state park first. Lots of fire fighters were staging at the park parking lot. Lots of new guys have been coming on line from all over the country and have to get deployed which they seem to do in the mornings , first thing.
The brush machine was getting ready to unload to go up and trim brush along the old roads up in the hills.
Park shop area is not burned
I rode up to the parks shop area as a commenter yesterday said the shops burned just after I left which I thought was bull as things were under control when I left yesterday. There’s a little smoke on the left but all the building are still standing. Enough said.
Fire’s entering the picnic area very slowly which is a good thing. It shouldn’t do to much damage.
Riding down from the shop area I rode by the picnic area where the fire is just creeping into from the ridge above where it was yesterday.
Too smoky to see
I rode up the hill to see where the hot spots were but it was too smoky so I gave up on that.
I rode back down into the park where I ran into one of the Cal fire bosses with another guy. They said you must be the guy on the green motor cycle. Yip. They said they really appreciate us local guys being here and helping out,……………a lot. And thanked me and I thanked them.
They had some maps they were trying to follow but it’s hard as lots of roads aren’t on the maps and some that are can’t be used as they’ve had no upkeep in many years. That means you can’t always go where you think you can go or you might end up on a road that turned into a very bad one where one might not want to be.
Anyway I helped them out with directions and then they headed on up the hill. The fire will be down here on that road by after noon as it turned out.
Park staging area
I checked the park staging parking lot again and this is what it looked like. All those guys are about to get to work for the day, it’s around 9 now.
Our house protection arrives
When I went home I found todays fire truck there going through the routine of checking each house out for protecting them if need be. There’s a different crew each day.
There were more fire trucks today mostly because I think more fighters are arriving from across the country.
Looking up the road towards the park, more trucks checking houses to protect them if need be.
I put Barry to work with the fire boss
My brothers were standing on the road when a CAL Fire pickup drove up and stopped. It was the head guy. He had some map questions and wanted to go up into the hills which could be confusing for someone not in the know. I noticed his passenger seat was empty so I said I have just what you need. Barry. Take him with you as he knows what you need to know so they took off.
Checking the Hill’s property
A friend wanted to know if the Hills property had burned or not so I rode onto there place to check it out. I didn’t see any fires burning and here’s the main house.
I checked on the other house on the property and this guy staying there came running out. He was in need of what’s going on so I gave him a report of what I knew.
Now it’s time for me to get to work
My bother’s had decided it would be good idea for me to use the dozer to clean off a couple old ridge roads around our places as no one else was doing anything for them and so I fueled the dozer and started working on this road cleaning off all the leaves and debrie.
I worked up the ridge and it was dusty.
Yellow Jacket attack
I’d just gotten to the end of the old ridge road and turned around and started back when all of a sudden there were about 20 yellow jackets flying around right in front of my face. Obviously I’d run over a ness.
Yellow jacket nests are one of the biggest hazards of dozing in the woods. If you can catch them when they first get in the dozer cab when there’s only a couple of them you can usually high tail it out and get away from them before the find you inside the dozer. With all the dust and the big yellow dozer making lots of noise and likely having a lot of smells the yellow jackets don’t usually find you too fast. They seemed to get confused most of the time which gives you some time if you spot them.
But while I was working I failed to see them until it was too late. I put it in gear and started waving my arms around in front of my face scattering some. They started to get me. Not sure how many stings, 3 to 5. I was able to shoo some off and some where stuck to my shirt so I picked them off and threw them away. I was lucky more didn’t get me. The stings didn’t hurt much which was good as I needed to keep going.
Headed home and to the next work spot
I worked a couple hours completing that then drove the dozer down the road over to my house. Not often I get to drive my dozer down the highway.
The dozer had been running close to hot so I wanted to let it cool down so I could check the radiator fluid and I needed a break so I parked it at my house for a bit. When I stepped off it the motor died. What the?
I checked the battery and found I knocked the battery cable off the battery post from all the crash banging I’d done
I got some water then went out to check on my chickens to see how they were doing.
I checked my email and rested up a bit then checked the radiator water which was full so all was good.
Back to work
I headed for a neighbors as I needed to go up through his property. He was gone but his helper Jerry was there up ahead and came over to talk so I shut the dozer off. I let him know what I was going to do
Another oh oh
When I was ready to go I turned the key and nothing happened. Hummm.
I asked Jerry to get some jumpers and a battery so we could get it started and walked back to my house to get some tools.
Tom has the answer
My brother Tom came by and said something about the transmission neutral safety switch which I had forgotten about. The transmission must be in neutral for it to start. I looked and sure enough that was the problem. Stuff happens.
Clearing a fire break
So now I was off up the old road and I made it to the top where it ended and turned around at this spot to start back down the road to finish it up.
Going back down the road pushing leaves and debrie off the road to make a fire break
Jerry came up in the jeep and is coming back down the hill just as I did also.
I then cleaned the leaves and grass off this old orchard around it’s edges to protect my property and was almost done.
Big guys show up
About that time some guys came by and were planning to bring a big bull dozer in the do what I just did. I chatted with them filling them in on there option as if they wanted to go up that road and continue it that would be good.
There is a catch
The only thing is they have to get the big dozer across the creeks and into the place which wouldn’t be easy as they usually can’t cross the old bridges around here. Jerry said he’d take them up where I’d just worked to check it out so I left them to it.
Dirt bike ride
I wanted to get done to go for a dirt bike ride to see what was going on with the fires. Around 4:30 I parked the dozer and gassed the dirt bike and was off.
I rode up to my cousin Lara’s place and down the back road to Hulbert creek which I knew they had opened up yesterday.
I saw some guys ahead so stopped here to chat.
Guys from Sonora
There were two guys with chain saws cutting out the over head trees off the road. They were from Sonora. I left them at it.
I was going to check on Lara’s house but I ran into my brother Barry on the a dirt bike so we did something else.
Barry’s having a good time
He’s had a great time with the CAL fire boss and was on a mission to mark a fire break road for them so I joined him and we went looking for Strode’s dozer and found it. Jim the guy who turned it over the other day was operating it and had been at Cousin Lara’s house cutting breaks around her place.
We caught up with Jim at the Pool Ridge Y and had a chat telling him where to go as Barry used tape to mark the route he needed to take on up the hill from here. By the way my brother Tom was able to join us on this ride. He’d been too busy doing fire prevention around his places to go before.
He’s on the right with his quad runner.
Jims quit a shooter of the bull and it was time for his break so he shut down for a bit and we chatted while he ate some refreshments and drank some water.
Once we were sure Jim knew where to go we took off for my cousin Lara’s place to check it out.
Cousin Lara’s house
It’s still standing. Jim’s not the best bulldozer operator which he had told us so the place was pretty torn up from the fire protection but you do what you can to save what you can which is better than not getting anything done and losing your house.
Checking on Robert’s place
From there we took off towards Roberts house to see how he faired the other day with the fire fast approaching his place. I’d been too busy to check yesterday.
On the way we ran into Ross and chatted with him a bit. He said five CAL Fire trucks showed up and helped save the houses were we were going to Roberts place.
The first house was Gary’s with three trucks. They’d done their work and were standing by.
It was smoky and we could see some hot spots looking below the houses.
This was the scene at Robert’s house. The fire guys and his gang where kicked back resting after a successful battle with the fire saving Robert’s house. We stopped and they were a bunch of nice guys.
Headed to the top of Bald Mountain
It was getting late and we had to get going and Barry and I had no headlights but we wanted to get up to the top of Bald Mountain to see where the fires were burning and Tom had never been up to this spot.
Unfortunately it was too smoky to see anything. Here we are on top of Bald Mountain in the smoke.
You can see it’s smoky as the sun was quickly going down.
We needed to get home quick so we headed for the state park.
As we were about to enter the valley park floor this was the scene.
Just below that was the picnic area which had caught fire since this morning when I was here last.
Fires in the park
There were CAL Fire guys and state park fire guys all over the place mostly not doing too much except watching the slow burn to make sure it didn’t get up into the big trees. A slow burn is not very destructive and is good for the forest so they watched. I think the park will mostly be all right after the fires gone. It’s a renewal process. It’s hard to see but there are some small fires burning down the hill on the far right which have hit the valley floor where the big trees are.
As we went down the road we passed by more people working on the park fires.
Brandon a park employee rode up in his truck while I was talking with some folks and we had a good chat and I left for home as it was getting dark.
Things are looking fairly good
The fire is still approaching our area slowly and everyone has been prepping for it not knowing for sure what it might do.
So from what I can see we are as ready as we can be for it and I think most stuff looks pretty good. If the wind was to really come up hard and for some time, things could change for the worst but right now things look good.
Another adventurous day. I did some work and had some fun and no houses in this area got burned.
Thank you so much for all your hard work working the lines and posting these pictures. It really helps a great deal. You’re right that we should have been maintaining fire roads all these years. Another thing we should have been doing all these years is decreasing the amount of carbon we’ve been pumping into the atmosphere, causing year after year of record breaking heat during ‘fire season’. We do need to maintain our fire roads (that means taxes, unfortunately) and we do need to slow down the climate change. Again, you’re the best source of information on this part of the fire and I can’t thank you enough for all your work.
Keep up the great work! Hope the wind stays down, everyone is doing such wonderful work up there!
Great reporting too.
Thank you, this is the best info I have been able to find. My son has come up from Poway , San Diego county, to fight the fires. I live in Vacaville. As much as I’d love to go show support to all the firefighters I am staying away because locals do not need extra people there.
Thanks Cuz, We’re hanging on every word! I talk with your brothers but just wanted to thank you for this info and efforts to save my home. If you see Jimmy C thank him too for the break he dozed, I don’t mind the lumps and broken water lines! Stay safe.
And then you got home a worked up this while post. Thanks for that! This is really the best news coverage for that area
Sorry for the wasps, they get really hornary this time of year. At least the battery cable didn’t let go at the same time!
Man, you guys are REAL neighbors! Sending respect and many blessings to you, yours and your areas.
Way to kick ass, Bob. Hopefully this gets over and done with before too much longer. Looks like the yellow jackets were glad to see you. I never got along too well with them. Good to see all you guys doing a great job of keeping the fire under control. I want to say thanks to all of you.
Bob, great info. Thank you. My uncle Robert’s house is up there and have been trying to get info about getting up there. I don’t have a dirt bike, but I do have a 4×4. Any way to get through and up to his house to lend a hand? I’d even hike if I had to. It looks like a crew came in and helped save the house, for now. I used to know the roads up there as I lived there for a bit, but it has been a long time. LMK if it’s crazy talk to try to get in.
Great work, Bob! And thanks for sharing with all of us. I have a better sense of what is happening in Guerneville because of your writing and photos.
So sorry you got stung by yellow jackets. Bad year for them.
Good to know that my source was wrong about the park buildings. Sorry for posting bad information, and relieved the fire has plenty of supervision. Stay away from the jalapeño flies if you can.
Thank you for this! I had a pretty rough night wondering what was going on since we lost the thread from the G Locals FB posts a couple days ago. Someone sent me this link this morning and I will be following you closely. It was so great to see the property I live on still safe and you clearing that road, which tends to be thick with dried leaves. Thank you for your part in protecting my home!
Wow … that’s a LOT of fire fighters up there saving people’s houses. I applaud you for giving them all the info they need and showing them where to go. Those slow burns are good … we used to do that in the high country all the time. Hoping it gets past your place soon with no wind and no damage. Lucky you have that cat … they can be persnickety, but boy what a great help they are!!
I live by the school and am so grateful for your reporting and photos. Obviously you have many talents. Thanks for sharing with all of us.