Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday July 11th

The Basin Fire burned over 9,000 acres yesterday with slope driven runs, spotting and torching in the East Zone. The area around Tassajara is now completely burned out and the crew report that they had a quiet night and are planning to rest today and to start to assessing the damage. They held morning service in the zendo.

To the north, the fire was held at the Pine Ridge trail with helicopters dropping a lot of retardant in an attempt to prevent the fire reaching the dozer lines. Jack Froggatt dropped by this morning on his way to the ridge this morning and said that hand crews would begin fighting the fire on the ground to try to protect this ridge line.

He also told us that it could be a week before the road was open. They have to be confident that the fire is not going to cut off their escape routes before they can send in dozers to begin to clear the many large rocks and downed trees. David reports that the parking lot at Tassajara is now a boulder field.

Jack also told us that the fire burned so hot and fast that it killed off most of the vegetation and that there could be problems from falling rocks and trees for a couple of years.


Anonymous said...

Remembering Our Ancestors in This Ancient Valley

Fire drawn to water,
seeking its own extinction,
while the bones of the ancients,
though creaking, remain with us.
Leaving in its wake
only the carefully tended green
that which was watered
and watered
and watered some more.

Lady Tara,
you who protect beings,
you who protect the Dharma,
born of the tears
of Chenrezig's infinite compassion for beings
water this valley
and teach us again
how to treat ourselves right.

Anonymous said...

So grateful that all at Tassajara are well and that most of the structures survived.
Deep bows of gratitude to all who helped prepare Tassajara for the fire - students, staff, and fire crews.

Linda said...

Chris & Cathleen, I wanted you to know I have REALLY APPRECIATED having your blog to read during this fire. I think it helped to not fan the flames of my rampant imagination. Can you tell us anything about the forest creatures - noticing if any have made their way out?
9 Bows to all of you,

Rob said...

Part of me is trying to envision the hillsides, the parking lot, the people now tending Zenshinji, the landslides that will happen in the next big winter storm. On my mind were the propane tanks, but I knew Steve and the others would have paid them the respect due.

Another part of me is eager to discover what beginner's mind means for each person who enters or regards Tassajara, now that this latest fire has hopefully passed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all the information that you have provided to us on this fire. We are extermely relieved that everyone remaining at Tassajara is safe.

Marc Matheson said...

Members of the Shambhala community around the world are being informed of the brave and good news coming out of Tassajara, and send our warm wishes (and cooling fog and misty eyes) for continued success of bodhisattva activity everywhere.

Anonymous said...

May all beings be happy
May they rejoice and live in safety

What a relief that most of the buildings survived (so far, there's still the falling ember problem). Tassajara is not just any place. It is a miraculous place in the way the lands shown by Buddha in the Lotus Sutra are. For me, it is amazing and unlikely that Tassajara ever came to be. It's equally miraculous that it now appears to have survived. It's something even more to be grateful for.

ac said...

gratitude all round... and thank you to the poster who opened this comment thread with such a beautiful piece.

on a distinctly less poetic note-- overview here of fire boundaries from yesterday; obviously not inclusive of the tassajara surge, but you can see the fire's recent push to the NE around pine ridge, china camp, and tassajara road. (click once to magnify the image)

Kotoku said...

Deep bows of gratitude that all are safe and sound and that Tassajara has survived. I am so relieved.

For those old timers like me that were at Tassajara in '77 this does bring back memories...

Stay safe everyone.
Thank you all so much.

Kotoku Ray Crivello

Barbara said...

I will gladly pay for one hour of helicopter time if the decision is made to provide relief to the five monks on site. I have sent this message to Dana at SFZC.

shundo said...

Until there is a link from the SFZC website, here are some more pictures from the week before the evacuation at Tassajara

Dana V said...

Dear Barbara--
Just so you know, I haven't received your message. You can email me at fireinfo at sfzc dot org. If you left a message on my phone, please be aware that our phones here at City Center are misbehaving right now.

A little side story to yesterday's event: while Tassajara was actively burning, we were receiving hourly phone updates from David Zimmerman at Tassajara. Only, our phones were actually down and we had to receive all of his calls on our personal cell phones.

Dana V said...

Oh, and Shundo's comment above reminds me that we have been using his photos on the fire info page of the sfzc web site. I now realize that in all the hubbub, we haven't been crediting him.
Deep bow of apology, Shundo. We'll fix that as soon as we have a moment.

JoeC said...

Gassho to the fire, which appears to have paid homage to Tassajara's ancient lineage and its current inhabitants!

A deep bow to the fire taming monks and their selfless activity!

Those who will sit through the winter rains and the rebirth in spring and successive winters and springs and all who benefit from that will owe a debt of gratitude.

Barbara said...

Dana, I did what you said.

Is it likely a helicopter will be chartered to bring help?

If so, what more contributions will be needed?

Anonymous said...

there's nowhere at Tassajara for a helicopter to land safely, especially now. and while supplies might safely be dropped, people wouldn't given the current state of the area.

Barbara said...

Tony said: As a practical matter, if you need to get folks back up to (or out of) Tassajara sooner than later, Verticare Helicopters out of the Salinas Airport might be an option. They know the backcountry well.

I believe their smallest helicopter goes for approximately $300/hour.

Karen and Joan said: . . . . We are feeling some urgency for getting more people into Tassajara to support the 5 already there. We like Tony's idea of using helicopters. If money is the obstacle to this option, we will take responsibility for fundraising to cover costs. So please go for it if it seems wise.

ac said...

The official update as of noon today in the region

Current Status:
- Yesterday the fire activity was high to extreme and active burning can be expected again today.
- The fire is holding north of the Carrizo Trail at the southern end of the fire.
- Fire has moved past The Caves, across Tassajara Road and through the Zen Center toward Arroyo Seco. It is also west and south of the observatory.
- The fire has also moved into the headwaters of Rocky Creek, east of Black Butte.
- The fire will continue to be active along the northern front of the fire, east of Devils Peak.
- Fire continues to slowly burn east along Willow Creek.
- The marine layer will increase relative humidity along the coast, with temperatures ranging between 60-70 degrees. Inland temperatures will begin to cool today ranging between 89-99 degrees, with winds shifting from the north in the morning to the southwest in the afternoon.

Anonymous said...

I have not been to the Tassajara zendo, so would be grateful if someone can tell us if there were birds lost in the Bird House... or if they are safe, too.
Thanks so much for this work!

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this blog so we could have close to real time understanding of what was happening. I wish my uncontrollable tears could have been put to better use helping to douse the fires. So grateful now that there is good news.

Anonymous said...

The Birdhouse is a very small cabin, so called because it is built into a tree high up on the side of the mountain, directly above the work circle and zendo. No birds were trapped there.

Dana V said...

The Bird House was a small monk's hut, located on the hill above the work circle/stage drop-off area. No birds were living there, to our knowledge. The monk that lived there was part of the first wave of student evacuations. It was called the Bird House because it was perched up high among the trees.

Barbara--thank you and all of the others for the helicopter idea and funds offer. We need a little more information before we take such measures. Right now we believe that The Five are resting and decompressing and are doing OK. We want to get assistance into them as soon as possible, of course. They have enough food and water to last quite a while.
We'll post more on the sfzc site, or on this blog soon.

Anonymous said...

No birds live in the bird house--many bows for your concern. It is a resident human's cabin, so named because it perches at the edge of the hill above the zendo. But our thoughts are with all living beings displaced, injured, or taken in this fire. Thank you for reminding us of that.

Anonymous said...

- Thanks for all the responses to my inquiry about the Bird House.

To endure a wildfire is such an incredible challenge, so I am glad to know that there were no captive birds facing that experience!
I hope to visit your zendo someday :-)

Anonymous said...

The opening post is reminiscent of venerable ancestor Philip Whalen's poem about Tara in which he asks for Tara's intercession IMMEDIATELY and ends with the phrase "we seldom treat ourselves right." It is a lineage poem.

Anonymous said...

the offers to pay for helicopter help are incredibly generous, but according to Leslie at Jamesburg the professional helicopter services have refused to land at Tassajara for some years. the closest place to land is up on the ridge, and that's not possible at this point, either, if you look at the fire maps

ac said...

holy toledo... newly posted fire map here, mapped at 10am this morning, that shows the fire pushing well east beyond tass. road all the way up to china camp, and awfully close to the observatory. there's not going to be much left of los padres to burn.

Anonymous said...

RE: Leslie's comments about professional helicopters refusing to land at Tassajara. During one of my visits there when there was a medical emergency and they needed to take someone out, and could not get a helicopter, the reason explained was that the downdrafts are too dangerous in that narrow valley, "slit in the earth" as Kosho once referred to it...

Anonymous said...

For the first time in seven years, I was unable to clear my schedule to visit Tassajara. I was disappointed that I would not get my yearly booster shot.

But the last several weeks I have sat for those who are there and sat for those who are not. It has been an intense lesson in the impermanence of gardens and cabins. And gratitude for the safety of friends.

I am reminded of the words:

"We are to practice constantly
as if to save our heads from fire."

Deep bows to all of the sangha.


Anonymous said...

Certainly seems like alot of unresolved interpersonal fires are burning. As inside, so outside; as above, so below.