11-15-08 - Terrific slideshow on the Monterrey Peninsula
Herald's web site called
Protecting Tassajara - with narration. - thanks to my sis Susan.
Notes on the results of the
recent fire that threatened Tassajara
9-18-08 - Judy Gilbert Tassajara fire
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
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
7-15-08 - from Firefighter Blog:
Tassajara "Fire Monks" Story Remains Untold
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:
Meyer cartoon dated today sent by Prof. John Nelson -
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
photos with Sweet Honey and the rock
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
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
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 SFZC.org 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.