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Tassajara Fire Update - the links below are the real update.

11-15-08 - Terrific slideshow on the Monterrey Peninsula Herald's web site called Protecting Tassajara - with narration. - thanks to my sis Susan.

10-09-08 - Notes on the results of the recent fire that threatened Tassajara

9-18-08 - Judy Gilbert Tassajara fire photos

9-17-08 - Photos of Tassajara after the fire by Shundo David Haye - more from him and others to come. Please pardon my tardiness. - dc

Flag Rock and Tassajara  

  Another view

7-24-08 - The story is still being told at Sitting with Fire and on the SFZC Fire Info page. Make sure you haven't missed this account called The Events Surrounding the Third Evacuation and the Tassajara Five's Return.

7-15-08 - from Firefighter Blog: Tassajara "Fire Monks" Story Remains Untold

7-14-08- Read Tassajara Director David Zimmerman's report.

7-13-08 - Tassajara Fire Update

I've just been leaving Tassajara fire info up to the three links of the SFZC site, the US Forest Service Los Padres National Forest page and Sitting with Fire, a blog from Jamesburg specifically on this fire.

But here are some other accounts:

Tom Meyer cartoon dated today sent by Prof. John Nelson - Meyer's website

click thumbnail to enlarge

Charlie Cagnon's email of 7-12 - just down below

Holdouts Keep Fire from Tassajara Center - SF Chron 7-11

Tassajara Monks Practice Firefighting - 7-10 SF Chron

SF Chron article of July 4th

Kokaku's You Tube Tassajara Smoke photos with Sweet Honey and the rock

MIRA The Tassajara Fire - 1999

Charlie Cagnon's email of 7-12

I attended a talk this morning by Paul Haller, co-abbot of SF Zen Center, during which he recounted the recent events of the Tassajara fire.  I also spoke with a former treasurer about its economic implications.

Over the past few weeks the Forest Service evacuated Tassajara due to the encroachment of the Big Sur fire on the monastery, and thus interrupted their summer guest season.  All left, except that five leaders had a change of heart on the way out, couldn't leave, and turned back to stay.  These included the Director, and co-abbot Steve Stucky.

Tassajara has always had disciplined fire crews, which has led the Forest Service to allow them to stay in previous fires.   This time the fire preparation effort was comprehensive.   Extensive fire breaks were cut, trees were trimmed up to high branches, buildings were wrapped in protective materials, roof sprinklers were put on all buildings, pumps and fire hoses were run from the pool, and pumped from the creek and from their spring reservoirs.  They had walkie talkies, oxygen tanks, and emergency coverings for the remaining five. 

The fire hit Tassajara directly Thursday.  As it walked down the hillsides, the crew drained the pool, pumping 50,000 gallons of water all over the facility, while refilling the pool from the creek.  Someone said they looked at a satellite image of Tassajara with a humidity screen and the camp was under a cloud.  Due to the moisture, the fire came to the camp and stopped.  Three buildings burned down--one hillside cabin (the "birdsnest"), compost barn buildings in the flats, and the pool bathroom and changing room (not the hot springs baths).  There was other damage supposedly around the shop area.  But essentially their protection efforts (or other forces) dissuaded the fire from engulfing the facility. 

SF Zen Center gets a significant portion of its support from the Tassajara guest season, and its not clear if it will reopen due to fires along the road.  SFZC has business interruption insurance which should cover a significant portion of the lost business, but not all.  Probably they'll wind up a few hundred thousand dollars in the hole, but that's just my estimate from talking with my friend.  Due to the insurance, it won't be a total wipe-out.  They may try to extend the guest season past Labor Day, but that hasn't been profitable in the past.  For an organization of their scale, the losses are survivable, and they can probably fund raise for the balance.

Finally, during the winter there will probably be flood conditions.  It rains heavily there, and the plants soak up the water.  In the past, Zen Center has had to clear the creek extensively to allow the very high waters to pass unimpeded.  This time the fire damage is more extensive, so they'll probably have to build sand bag barriers. 

Check the website to get more updates if you're interested.

And lastly, the LA Times did a story about them during the fire and asked one of the students why he came to Tassajara.  He replied, "the man of fire seeks fire."  They didn't print the quote.

Charles Cagnon

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