The Abhayagiri residents are now back on the property, and we have been joined by two of our close friends and supporters, Dee and Sondra, who both lost their houses in the fire. They will be staying with us as they sort out where they will want to eventually reside and how they will be rebuilding their homes. Other friends in the area who experienced losses are also slowly starting to piece things together again. There are many work crews along Tomki Road, repairing utilities, trimming back trees, and engaging in general cleanup—we expect this will take an extended period of time.
We were extraordinarily fortunate to have experienced no damage to any of our structures, except possibly minimal damage to one of our ridge water tanks. There are likely many reasons for this blessing, with most of the credit going to the excellent work done by the multiple fire-fighting crews from many different areas. We also believe there must have been some very powerful protective forces on the property looking after the monastery as we had fires coming from several directions that seemed to unexpectedly reverse direction.
On a more mundane level, we feel that the fire protection measures that we took prior to the fire (defensible clearances around buildings, trail maintenance, fire breaks, emergency procedures, etc.) were also very helpful. One thing we learned from this fire is that even with the extensive measures we have taken, we need to do more.
Because of the damage to the forest, we have closed our trails to public access until further notice, as there are potential dangers from falling dead trees and erosion after the fire.
Many of our friends have been asking how they can help us at this time. As a result of the fire, we would like to maintain and widen some of our trails, as they provided access for the fire-fighters and some of the wider trails worked as fire breaks and prevented spread of the fire on the property. We would also like to continue to extend the defensible areas around cabins with more brush clearance.
These fire prevention and trail maintenance projects are beyond what our resident community can do, and we will need to hire help for doing this. We have talked with the California Conservation Corps in the past to do some trail work, but had to postpone it due to lack of funds. Consequently, we have decided to set up a fund for this work for anyone who would like to contribute towards the future maintenance and fire safety measures in our forest.
Over the next few weeks and months, we will look forward to slowly resuming our regular routines, and keeping an eye out for ways to improve the conditions on the property for both residents and visitors. Our appreciation for all of your well-wishes and gestures of support is beyond measure, and we look forward to reconnecting with all of you.
The above two photos show an area on our ridge where we did brush clearing last year. In the second photo, taken on October 20, 2017, you can see the results of the fire that approached the side to the right of the road. The trees to the left of the road experienced little to no fire damage. According to several firefighters whom we spoke with, most of the ridge experienced a great loss of trees in part due to the brush being too thick.