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$18M allocated to rebuild Calif. fire station destroyed by Dolan Fire

On Sept. 7, 2020, 14 firefighters were injured in an attempt to protect the Nacimiento Fire Station


In this Sept. 11, 2020 file photo firefighters with Vandenberg Air Force Base light a back burn to help control the Dolan Fire at Limekiln State Park in Big Sur, Calif.

AP Photo/Nic Coury, File

Kathe Tanner
The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)

LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST, Calif. — When the Dolan fire swept through the Big Sur hills about 18 months ago, it destroyed the isolated Nacimiento Fire Station.

Now, the facility will be rebuilt thanks to about $18 million in federal funding, according to U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta.

In his announcement Thursday, the Monterey Democrat said the funding awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will go toward replacing the fire station, barracks, engine garage and pumphouse. The money also will help to replace some site utilities, such as a water well, solar connections and access roads.

In Panetta’s news release, he noted that the station’s loss devastated area firefighters and the out-of-the-way community. “Maintaining a functional fire station in such a remote location prone to wildfires is crucial to protecting the Los Padres National Forest and surrounding areas.”

Federal support was provided as Supplemental Disaster Funding through the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act. Approved in September 2021, the act provided more than $1 billion in funding for recovery efforts after wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters.

The Dolan Fire

The Dolan Fire torched nearly 125,000 acres of Big Sur land, at one point reaching Highway 1 and threatening iconic structures such as the Bixby Bridge.

It took firefighters months to control the stubborn blaze, in part because some of the areas it flashed through are so remote, according to Cal Fire.

The blaze was finally declared contained on Dec. 31, 2020.

Less than a month after the raging fire began in mid-August of 2020, flames took out the Nacimiento Ranger Station on Sept. 7, 2020. Some 14 firefighters were injured trying to protect the station, and one is still recovering from his injuries.

Casey Allen said Monday that healing from his second- and third-degree burns is continuing, with only a few small wounds left on his ankles, and his Achilles tendon on his right foot is almost completely healed.

However, the news about Allen’s injured left hand wasn’t as good: Doctors may have to amputate his ring and pinkie fingers.

He credited U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal and his district representative Wendy Motta with finally breaking a stubborn repayment logjam so Allen and his wife Tina, who he called “my rock,” could be repaid for money they had to pay out of pocket toward his recovery.

More money

This is the second Big-Sur-related funding announcement Panetta has made recently for infrastructure repairs in the Big Sur area.

In January, he announced that $12.6 million in Federal Highway Administration funds would go toward fixing the steep, narrow, rocky and often washed-out Nacimiento-Fergusson Road (which has the local nickname of " Nasty-Fergie Road).

It links Big Sur’s Highway 1 with Highway 101.


(c)2022 The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)