Monterey County

Volunteers help deputies patrol in Soberanes Fire

Deputies provide traffic control, patrols, watch for looters

Some residents ignore Soberanes Fire evacuation orders

CARMEL VALLEY, Calif. - UPDATE 8/3/2016 9:30 PM:

Deputies with the Monterey County Sheriff's Office have been working overtime patrolling the Soberanes Fire. They're also relying on members of the Sheriff's Emergency Assistance Team (SEAT), a group of volunteers who respond to large scale disasters and events.

Ben Fowler is a SEAT volunteer who was assigned to patrol the Tassajara and Cachagua communities when KION joined him for a ride along on Wednesday. He has experience in the area, having patrolled the same location during the Tassajara Fire.

"We can provide traffic control, road closure assistance, as well as patrolling the areas where there have been evacuations or damage from the fire to keep looters out and protect the property," Fowler said.

He's also available to lend an extra hand for other incidents. During the ride along, three suspects were detained east of Tassajara Road. They were later released.

Parts of the Tassajara and Cachagua communities are under an evacuation order by the Monterey County Sheriff's Office. It's roughly in the same area where the Tassajara Fire burned last year. That fire didn't destroy everything. There's a fresh crop of grass that has since dried up.

The Tassajara Fire burned near Martha Watson's home. The Soberanes Fire is just miles from it. Until she's forced out, she's doing what she can to protect her home by building defensible space.

"I look at as helping the fire crews," Watson said. "They can be at places that need more, maybe more help than ours."

She's packed up and ready to leave at a moment's notice. The erratic fire conditions could put her in harm's way.

"The fear would be if it gets into Cachagua, it's got a greater chance of coming and blowing and doing more of the same pathway or up and over," Watson said.

She believes her other neighbors are staying because they have experiences with fires.

But Cal Fire warns residents to evacuate, so crews won't have to risk their lives rescuing others.

Fowler sees it as keeping his community safe.

"An extra set of eyes and ears that you can have on the street and access to radio and extra awareness of what's going on is always a benefit," Fowler said.

To learn more about SEAT, click here.


Deep in Carmel Valley in the community of Cachagua, KION's Mariana Hicks finds some residents are ignoring evacuation orders and staying with their homes.

Tonight at 5 and 6, you'll meet those who refuse to go, even as flames from the Soberanes Fire inch closer.

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