20 October 2008

Camaldolese Hermitage Evacuated: Chalk Fire

The following information on the evacuation of New Camaldoli Hermitage was posted on the Oblate list. The Chalk fire has been burning for some weeks, but the danger of evacuation became serious just recently. Please pray for the monks and the hermitage itself. Contributions would also be welcomed not only because the Hermitage was closed for part of the Summer due to another serious fire and evacuation and lost a great deal in ordinary and necessary revenue from retreatants, but because they will be closed to guests for another week or so now and again lose revenue.

[[New Camaldoli Hermitage was evacuated Friday 10/18 because of the threat posed by the increased activity of the Chalk Fire which has been burning south of the Hermitage since the end of September. While a week ago the fire seemed to almost entirely contained, on Thursday 10/16 the fire jumped some lines on the northern edge and hot spots were now detected in Limekiln State park located next to the Hermitage. Xasauan Today has the MODIS satellite image from Friday afternoon which anyone can view at http://xasauantoday.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/chalk10-17pm.jpg. The monks are staying at St. Clare’s Retreat House in Soquel, near Santa Cruz (where they stayed in July during the earlier evacuation).

The most recent message recorded by Fr. Isaiah, the guestmaster, indicates that the Hermitage will be closed to guests at least until the weekend of October 24-26, although he also said that it is quite possible the monks will still be evacuated at that time. He did state that the monks were optimistic that the structures at the Hermitage would be protected. Four monks have remained behind at the Hermitage to work with firefighters, as well as about a half dozen of the workers employed by the community. Gordon, who is at the Hermitage, sent the following to Big Sur Kate on Sunday morning (10/19) which she posted on her blog (bigsurkate.wordpress.com):

“There are four monks remaining and about six workers including my son who chose an interesting time to come visit from Seattle. We all have faith that the hermitage will remain intact. There is good dozer line protecting us. Depending on who you ask word is that they may do a backburn from the [?] but it is not clear at least to me if/when that will happen. From within the monastery grounds we can’t see the fire. It’s just over the E/NE edge of the bowl we live in.”

The Sunday evening update (8 pm PDT on 10/19) stated:

“The firing operation which started about noon today was successful. Crews started from the dozer line approximately 2 miles north of the New Camaldoli Hermitage and burned south along the dozer line. As of this afternoon the firing had almost reached the Hermitage. Crews will continue with the firing operation into this evening as long as there is still opportunity to burn. Crews supported by helicopters and air tankers worked to hold the ridge NW of Twin Peak parallel with the Carizzo Trail. In the Limekiln State Park area, the fire is backing down slowly.

Tonight crews will continue to hold and support the firing operations. Structure protection continues in Limeklin State Park and the Hermitage. Cool temperatures and good relative humidity with light winds should result in minimal perimeter growth. Along the coast, below 1,500 ft. the marine layer will continue to be temperatures cool and moist throughout the night.”

And Big Sur Kate (who lives on a ridge south of the Hermitage and has been providing amazing first hand information for the 24 days that the Chalk Fire has burned) wrote on her blog yesterday (Sunda 10/19)“I am no fire expert, by any means, but what I witnessed today, the burn-out operation north east of the Hermitage really looked good today.”]]