Once we got word of the escape we rushed down from my house in Paso Robles. Actually, we drove down to view the fire twice today separated by a short break at her home in Atascadero. Both times we took the 101 Freeway down to San Luis Obispo and turned around at Monterey Street and returned in the bumper-to-bumper traffic headed up the Cuesta Grade. This slowness allowed us to get a great view of it without stopping along the route to take pictures which the CHP was discouraging by way of sentinel units holding watch along the length of the grade. From there we pulled off the freeway at Highway 58 and headed into Santa Margarita to check on fire preparations there as the fire approached.
What follows are images I captured as a passenger in a car shown in the order I took them. I am dividing up the two trips today into two separate blog posts but I am linking them together for easy reference. See Cuesta Fire - Day Two - Trip One.
Note: one of the lenses I use with my camera has a noticeable scratch which shows up on some images. I cannot currently afford to replace it so please bare with my flawed images until then.
|View looking down southbound Highway 101 towards town of Santa Margarita which by this point was under a thick smoke pall and full evacuation of all of the community south of the railroad tracks running through the center of town.|
|By now it was clear the fire was fully-established over the hill to the east of the ridgeline from the Cuesta Grade.|
|Two Ventura Co. FD type-3 engines were now parked in front of the Kern Co. dozer transports at the top of the ground on the northbound side of the highway.|
|Several smokes within the burn area threatened to flare up at any moment.|
|CALFIRE battalion chief at left and LPF (Los Padres National Forest) engine at right.|
|The CALFIRE Miramonte crew strike team itself was still nowhere to be seen.|
|Oh, there they are way up near the top of the main ridgeline supported by an LPF engine, a water tender and a CALFIRE battallion chief.|
|That painted red spur ridge again.|
|Speaking of painted, here's a retardant-painted CALFIRE FKU (Fresno-King Unit) engine strike team leader.|
|A different retardant-painted hillside.|
|Open flames in grass.|
|Open flames in underbrush.|
|Miramonte Conservation Camp crew bus from CALFIRE TUU (Tulare Unit).|
|The looky-loo parking patrol.|
|Smouldering stump still alight.|
|Same stump, but closer.|
|The aforementioned Kern County dozer strike team brought themselves an off-road buggy, too.|
|The aforementioned Ventura Co. FD type-3 engines.|
|CALFIRE Copter 406 flying over Highway 101|
|CALFIRE Copter 901 lifting out of pond adjacent to northbound side of Highway 101 between Cuesta Grade and Santa Margarita.|
|Bambi bucket used by Copter 901|
|A strike team of Los Angeles County fire crew buses staged at park & ride at Highway 58 and Highway 101 intersection.|
|BEU (San Benito-Monterey Unit CALFIRE) dozer transport at left with private dozer to the right of it headed into Santa Margarita.|
|The heli-tender for Copter 106 driving through Santa Margarita.|
|Copper-colored sun as viewed through the smoke southeast of Santa Margarita, CA. |
All photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).