Big Sur Fire; Basins Complex View June 29,2008

Basins Complex Fire commanders got some “fresh” troops yesterday upping their reported total to just over 1,000. The morning report shows 32,000 acres have burned with containment still under 5%. You can see from the map below the fire is spreading east and north. The fire’s march south has not halted even though the GeoMAC image shows there is not active burning on the southern head.

Keep in mind 1,000 firefighters on scene means one half are on the lines and the other half are getting sleep. The fire only has 17 hand crews and 11 bulldozers assigned. Of the 1,000 firefighters nearly 20 percent are designated “overhead”. These are division and group supervisors, incident command team members, biologists etc..

While they support efforts of the actual firefighters they do not lay shovels to the ground. Fifty or so firefighters comprise the two in-camp kitchen crews and their supervisors. Forty four fire engines are assigned to the Basins Complex and are primarily used for structure protection according the incident report. Structure protection engines and crews prep individual properties and lay in wait for the fire to come to them.

In reality no more than a few hundred firefighters and the eleven dozer operators are on the ground on any one shift. From the sky seven helicopters and seven fixed wing craft pound the flanks and support the hand crews working below. It’s a decent air force but they cannot put the fire out without adequate ground support.

All considered this is a very small army for a fire this size. Fire command is really doing all they can with what they are given. Save structures, try to guide the fire away from local communities and hope for helping weather. Troops are scarce statewide so it’s improbable this one will ever get adequately staffed. If so we’ll likely see 170,000 acres burned as noted by Basin Complex command staff yesterday.

GeoMAC fire mapping software is fantastic. If you haven’t played around with the fire map viewing options you should have a look.

*Update: Basins Complex continues run to the northwest—–