From a vantage point about a mile and a half up Highway 154, at a point with a view directly into Maria Ignacio Canyon and toward the Windy Gap fuel break, Independent reporter Ray Ford filed the following story. He called it in on his cell phone at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, May 9.
The fire did cross Highway 154 a little bit, above where the turnout is-the one with a number of rock outcroppings where climbers go bouldering. The fire crossed into the east fork of Maria Ignacio Creek. However, it is still at least a mile from the Trout Club, and there is no fire moving in that direction at all.
There is still one fork of Maria Ignacio, one canyon, that the fire would have to cross before getting to Old San Marcos Pass, so it’s still a long way away; and the marine influence is coming in and starting to push the fire lightly uphill away from the Trout Club.
On the other hand, it is on the east slope of Maria Ignacio, moving very quietly uphill, just across from the Painted Cave area. It is still quite a way from the Painted Cave area, but Painted Cave nonetheless has more cause for concern-should the fire turn back to the west-than the Trout Club.
Right now, because of the marine influence, the weather has gone from warm, further down, to slightly cool. I am almost at the top of the marine layer, just below the rock art site. In fact, I just got a nice cool blast of air. And what that’s doing is carrying the smoke and the little spot fires up a canyon toward the Windy Gap fire break. There’s still concern for Painted Cave, but the fire is starting to move away.
There are probably 20 hand crews down below starting to cut off those spot fires, so there’s lots of activity over here. In addition, the larger bombers, the four-engine planes, are just beginning to drop retardant on the ridge between the Painted Cave area and the spot fires.
So, you’ve got four good things happening: The marine influence coming in; the cool wind causing fire to move east and away from Painted Cave; the huge number of hand crews cutting line; and larger bombers laying down retardant.
As for the DC-10, I don’t think it could drop here because the bombers are diving right down into the canyon, parallel to the ridge lines, at 30-degree angles.
Ford will continue to report on the Jesusita Fire throughout the day. He plans to move along East Camino Cielo to the fire’s eastern end as well.