Pewetole Island in the Trinidad Bay Continues to Burn
But by Sunday morning, residents from nearby Trinidad saw smoke rising again.Cal Fire’s helicopter once more attempted to quench the fire but fog rolled in and the conditions became too unsafe to continue, according to Leisyka Parrott of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Monday afternoon at low tide, a small handcrew from her agency which manages the island swam out during low tide and attempted to climb the steep sides of the island. Burning vegetation rolled down the cliffs and into the water near them. They eventually decided the climb would be too dangerous under the conditions and left.
Tim Jones of the BLM stayed behind to monitor the area because embers from torching trees were landing close to shore. Burned debris continued to roll onto the beach.
Our reporter Bobby Kroeker questioned Jones about what was happening.
Right now quenching the flames on Pewetole Island isn’t a high priority for firefighters. According to Parrott, “We are currently in National Fire Preparedness Level 2 which means several geographic areas are experiencing high to extreme fire danger.”She explained that in other areas of the state, life and property are in danger so an island surrounded by water with no structures or people on it isn’t a primary concern. “There’s a lot of fires burning in California and not a lot of resources,” she said.
Nonetheless, trees on the island are torching and Parrot worries.
Pewetole island is part of the 20,000 islands, rocks, and pinnacles that make up the California Coastal National Monument. “The Yurok and Trinidad Rancheria consider it part of their ancestral grounds…They wanted the fire out,” she said.One of the southernmost stands of Sitka Spruce digs its roots into the large rock that makes up most of the island. “Those spruce trees are unique,” Parrott explained. “They know how to live in the salt air.” During the nesting season black oystercatchers and other seabirds build cavity nests in the vegetation atop the island. They come back year after year to the same nests. The picturesque island helps draw tourists and their wallets to the area and is a point of pride with locals. Each day, the smoke that blankets the tiny town of Trinidad drives away more needed dollars and the flames eat away at one of the most photographed spots on the North Coast.
In the future that may mean less cameras clicking at this cherished spot. But, for now, the number of photos shot of the island seems to have increased.