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8-13-05 - Sabbatical Update #5 - Fire near Tassajara last month

Gosh, I never finished telling about what happened at Tassajara. Like there was a fire. This was about exactly a month ago. No kidding. It came that (holding two fingers up almost touching) close to being a real forest fire. I missed out because Clay and I were staying in the hill cabins but my Sonoma buddy and former Suzuki student Dennis Samson was awakened at three thirty in the morning and in a jiffy a few students were dressed and driving up the road with some tools and fire extinguishers.

I don't know a lot of the details and I forget whom I talked to about it and who went up to fight the fire, except Dennis and really don't have time to research it and do a journalistic type report but, as I remember it, some guy came running down to Tassajara from not far up the road, woke somebody up and said he'd fallen asleep smoking and accidentally started a fire. He was so extremely worried that he ran up the road barefoot ahead of the Tassajara truck with a fire extinguisher in hand. 

As I heard it the fire had gotten going enough to where the Tassajara crew was hesitant to get into it until the highly motivated guy whose fault it was just went running right into it with fire extinguisher gushing. It was small enough and spreading slowly enough at that time in the morning that they got it under control. The California Division of Forestry arrived two hours later and was greatly grateful that the Tassajara folks and the illegal camper had put it out. They spied another spot with smoke coming up from it and put that out. It was thought at the time that it came from a spark that had wafted up to a higher spot on a ridge as I remember it, but later I heard that the CDF said that there was evidence that the camper had been there too. I guess he was arrested but don't know. I'll call them and find out.

Later in the day some visitors from nearby Jamesburg were there and one of them who has experience fighting fires said that the reason that the fire didn't spread faster is that the humidity was too high at that time in the morning. He also said that the forest service used to do controlled burns but that that's not politically feasible now and so the woods keep building up to the  point they're in now where you can't get through them so easy now. They are full of "ladder material," the brush and low and fallen branches that fire climbs to get to the top of trees. There's a lot of kindling there that keeps growing and waiting for the next opportunity to burn.

Thanks to the Tassajara crew that fought that fire. They are really heroes that did such a good job that their valor went so unnoticed as to not even be forgotten.

Gotta go to Guerneville now to join Darlene Cohen and Tony Patchel at their budding zendo for the ten a.m. Saturday morning sit and tea.

More Tassajara report later.

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