The fire started Wednesday the 9th, cause unknown, up in Amador County at 2:26PM (I’m sure that means that is when it was first reported) and quickly showed us that its large paws were not just for show. With in 6-7 hours it was over 1,200 acres, and then the next day it got into the kibble.
From my memory, by early Thursday it was somewhere north of 15,000 acres and by Friday at 1300 I was leaving work to pack up and evacuate. As I write this the town of Murphys is still under an “Evacuation’s Advisory”
Mandatory Evacuation Orders:
San Andreas at Pope, West Murray Creek, Lewis, Miller, San Andreas Elementary, Goldstrike, Mountain Ranch East to Windmill, Wimbledon Drive, Forest Hill, and Turner Court. Please leave the area immediately.
(Amador County) Canyon View, Fig Tree Lane, and Ponderosa Way; Tabeau Road south of Arrowhead to Amador Road, Ranch Drive and Aqueduct Grove Road.
(Calaveras County) Town of Mokelumne Hill, East of Hwy 49 from the Amador/Calaveras County line South to Goldstrike Road. South on Goldstrike Road to the Community of San Andreas. Rural areas East of San Andreas to Mountain Ranch Road. Mountain Ranch Road to Calaveritas Road to Fourth Crossing. Fourth Crossing to Hwy 49. East side of Hwy 49 South to North side of Hwy 4 (Angels Camp). North side of Hwy 4 East to Town of Arnold. All of SR 26 from Mokelumne Hill, North to the Amador/Calaveras County line. To include the communities of Glencoe, Westpoint, and Wilseyville. San Andreas at Pope, West Murray Creek, Lewis, Miller, San Andreas Elementary, Goldstrike, Mountain Ranch East to Windmill, Wimbledon Drive, Forest Hill, and Turner Court.
(Amador County) Hwy 88 from Ranch Road East to Tiger Creek Road (Red Corral and Buckhorn Areas).
(Calaveras County) City of Angels Camp, Hwy 49 South to Hwy 4 South at the city limits of Angels Camp. Town of Arnold, Northwest of Hwy 4 includes sub-divisions of Lakemont, Mill Woods and Meadowmont. Hwy 4 North to Sheep Ranch Road/Blue Lake Springs sub-division, Big Trees State Park, Town of Dorrington, Town of Murphys and Forest Meadows. Town of San Andreas. Poole Station Road, Carroll Kennedy Road, Cement Plant Road, Demearest Mine Road, Oak Valley Road, Gelding Road, Stallion Road, Deer Creek Road, Copello Road.
Actually if you plot “East side of Hwy 49 South to North side of Hwy 4 (Angels Camp). North side of Hwy 4 East to Town of Arnold” on a map it looks to me that Murphys is in the “Mandatory Evacuation” area. They just cut out an exemption for some large population areas.
Just to give you an idea of where the fire is located.
A little closer now.
We are somewhere in the blue circle.
Between Rocky Hill and Wyldwood.
In theory the fireline is about 2 -2.5 miles from our house.
However, I think the reality is that a Bull Dozer line was cut on top of Esmeralda Ridge and backfires stopped the actual fire from crossing it or reaching us.
Be that as it may, on Saturday night we could see a very strong orange glow over the ridge behind our house.
Monika called me, just after lunch Friday, and requested my presence to help pack up and evacuate my folks and our family. About 4 or 5 that afternoon, after packing and waiting to see if it was needed we joined the row of cars evacuating from the High Country and Murphys area.
The folks rented a room at the Days Inn in Sonora and Monika, myself and company spent the night at Monika’s aunt and uncles place in Columbia. Karl and Riley drove back home to spend the night in our house along with other neighbors who did not evacuate. Saturday morning around 11 we picked up my folks and joined them.
Thanks to God, light winds and hard working Fire Crews Murphys was spared. We did spend all day Saturday and Sunday with the cars packed and the trailer hooked up to the van ready to bail if the fire topped the ridge behind us, which rumor said was imminent at any moment.
Looting has been reported (reason #25,798,045 why I carry a gun), every thing from people on motorcycles doing smash and grabs to groups of fake firefighters. The best solution proposed that I’ve read is to hog tie them to a tree and let God decide what to do with them.
At various times on Saturday and Sunday we heard and saw fire bombers, both a Boeing 727 and a C130, flying low overhead getting setup to drop retardant on the fire a ridge or two over.
Today, unlike the last 3 days, there is little smoke and only light ash falling on us, unfortunately the winds have picked up here in Murphys. It seems to be from the South however so that should keep the fire from us even while it feeds it. As long as the wind does not shift we should be OK.
Currently they are calling the fire to be 71,063 acres and 30% contained. 135 homes destroyed as well as 79 outbuildings.
Monika and I personally know at least 10 family’s, friends and co-workers mostly, who know that their homes have been destroyed. Several more still don’t know.
One of the better sites for information is
Along with Cal Fire
The latest update has this.
Fire behavior forecast:
The decrease in temperature and increase in humidity today will do little to moderate the fire activity. The grass and light fuels will be affected slightly, decreasing their receptiveness to fire brands. The lag time for larger fuels is longer than the effect of the increased humidity and will still readily burn. Due to the drought the brush and trees are at critical fuel moisture levels and will produce large number of fire brands when actively burning. This high number of fire brands will increase the potential for spotting in the lighter fuels, even with higher humidity levels. The fuels and winds have been the main carrier of fire and with the increase in wind the fire has potential to grow to the northeast. Watch for trees near the fires edge for torching and casting embers across the line. Spotting from the brush will be over X mile and from trees up to 1 mile.
The northeast portion in the Mokelumne River drainage will be active with a strong southwest wind increasing spread to the east. The drainage splits into two main branches with a dominant ridge in-between. If fire becomes established in both sides of the canyon there will be two separate head fires. The east side of the fire has transition areas from trees and brush into grass fields. Spotting into these fields is a strong possibility with the increasing wind. These spots will have a rapid rate of spread and will transition again into brush and timber. The south portion of the fire is in the grass oak woodland, which has the high potential for spot fires, however the wind should be. more favorable for control efforts. There is still potential for a spot to cross the line with the increasing wind and get into the San Antonio Creek drainage. The east side of the fire is also in the grass oak woodland and will have favorable winds during and changing directions across the line in the overnight hours. Spotting potential will be reduced in the overnight hours but is still a strong possibility.
As I sit here now I’m listening to the bombers working on the edge of it up by Sheep Ranch.