MEHER MOUNT

9902 Sulphur Mountain Road
Ojai, CA 93023-9375

Phone: 805-640-0000
Email: info@mehermount.org

HOURS

Wednesday-Sunday: Noon to 5:00 p.m.
Monday & Tuesday: Closed

MANAGER/CARETAKERS

Buzz & Ginger Glasky

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Sam Ervin, Preident
Ron Holsey, Vice President
Ursula Reinhart, Treasurer
Jim Whitson, Director
Richard Mannis, Director

OFFICERS

Margaret Magnus, Secretary

9902 Sulphur Mountain Rd
Ojai, CA, 93023
United States

(805) 640-0000

Story Blog

Anecdotes, activities and stories about Meher Mount - past, present and future.

Totally Random or Divinely Orchestrated? An Update on the Thomas Fire

Margaret Magnus

On Monday, December 4, 2017, sometime after the Manager/Caretakers Buzz and Ginger Glasky evacuated around 10:00 p.m., the Thomas Fire struck Meher Mount.

On December 6 and 8, Buzz and Ginger visited Meher Mount reporting minimal or no damage to structures or the tractor. The water system is out of commission due to the fire damage to pipes, electrical and equipment. Baba’s Tree at Avatar’s Point suffered major damage from wind and fire.

On December 12, Buzz and Ginger, Sam Ervin, Margaret Magnus and Cassandra Bramucci made a follow-up visit. Margaret and Sam share their observations.

 BABA'S TREE is in the center at Avatar's Point. There are other trees to the left, right and behind Baba's Tree. To the right, the burned area borders the path to the Prasad Orchard. The view is looking south toward Los Angeles with the Santa Monica Mountains in the background. The Pacific Ocean is to the right. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, December 12, 2017) 

BABA'S TREE is in the center at Avatar's Point. There are other trees to the left, right and behind Baba's Tree. To the right, the burned area borders the path to the Prasad Orchard. The view is looking south toward Los Angeles with the Santa Monica Mountains in the background. The Pacific Ocean is to the right. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, December 12, 2017) 

BY MARGARET MAGNUS & SAM ERVIN

When we arrived at Meher Mount on Tuesday, there was a sense of serenity. 

Looking at the Visitor Center and the Topa Topa Patio attached to the Workshop, you would not know there had been a fire. It felt as if little had interrupted the flow of life on the mountain. 

Going down the familiar path to Baba's Tree there was a calmness only broken by our sense of anxious anticipation regarding the wind and fire damage to the tree.

The burned part of Baba’s Tree is now a beautiful sculpture. The limb that forms an arch over the spot where Meher Baba sat during His 1956 visit is still there creating a frame for that sacred space.

 THE HEART STONE, placed approximately where Avatar Meher Baba sat when He visited in 1956, is framed by a limb of Baba's Tree. (Photo: Sam Ervin, December 12, 2017)

THE HEART STONE, placed approximately where Avatar Meher Baba sat when He visited in 1956, is framed by a limb of Baba's Tree. (Photo: Sam Ervin, December 12, 2017)

Our feeling is that Baba’s Tree will have a new life and incarnation. The essence of Meher Baba’s physical presence will always be there. He left an invisible fountain of spiritual energy on the entire mountain.

Whenever I visit a place and stay there, however a short a time, its spiritual atmosphere becomes greatly elevated… [1]
— Avatar Meher Baba

Exploring the Property

We proceeded, almost like explorers over other parts of the property seeing what was burned, what was untouched and what had changed.

Much of the underbrush and some of the trees burned in places along the Well Road, at Avatar’s Point, in the Prasad Orchard and along the Prasad Orchard Trail.

 OLD FARM EQUIPMENT, seen through the hazy smoke, was previously hidden from view in the Prasad Orchard. It was uncovered by the Thomas Fire. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, December 12, 2017)

OLD FARM EQUIPMENT, seen through the hazy smoke, was previously hidden from view in the Prasad Orchard. It was uncovered by the Thomas Fire. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, December 12, 2017)

In the canyon to the well and at Avatar’s Point much of the underbrush was gone, and you could see the shape and flow of the land. It was an opportunity to view some of Meher Mount’s topography in a starker, but intriguing, way.

We chuckled when walking along the Well Road remembering a day-long work party several years ago to trim the bushes and branches so that the road was passable. All those bushes and branches had burned in a matter of minutes, and the pathway was relatively clear.

SURPRISINGLY LITTLE DEBRIS

 DÉJÀ VU. The Workshop and Topa Topa Patio are untouched by the 2017 Thomas Fire.  They sit next to the foundation of the farmhouse and outbuilding that remains from the 1985 New Life Fire. Manager/Caretaker Buzz Glasky and Board Chairman Sam Ervin survey the area. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, December 12, 2017)

DÉJÀ VU. The Workshop and Topa Topa Patio are untouched by the 2017 Thomas Fire.  They sit next to the foundation of the farmhouse and outbuilding that remains from the 1985 New Life Fire. Manager/Caretaker Buzz Glasky and Board Chairman Sam Ervin survey the area. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, December 12, 2017)

There is surprisingly little debris. In fact, it looks as if the fire cleaned up some piles of trash that had been hidden away.

The debris – or lack of it – is interesting. In the 1985 New Life Fire, which burned four houses, a large barn, and various outbuildings along with an automobile and a tractor, it took about 40 people two full weekends to clear away the debris.

Because no man-made structures and little equipment were burned, there is very little debris. The natural environment suffered most of the fire, and Mother Nature takes care of what’s left to use as part of the regeneration process. Clean-up is not a major issue with the 2017 Thomas Fire.

CARETAKERS NOT HOMELESS

 THE WIND CREATES a sculpture of part of Baba's Tree at Meher Mount. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, December 12, 2017)

THE WIND CREATES a sculpture of part of Baba's Tree at Meher Mount. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, December 12, 2017)

Another interesting comparison between the 1985 and 2017 fires is the fate of the caretakers. Agnes Baron, who was living at Meher Mount in 1985, was homeless after the fire, and all her possessions were destroyed.

In 2016, Buzz and Ginger Glasky, purchased an Airstream travel trailer in anticipation of the next phase of their life touring the country. They are not homeless. They were able to hook up the trailer and safely evacuate with a roof over their heads.

And their possessions at Meher Mount? They were untouched by fire, except for some smoke damage. Amazingly, embers and hot ash blew under the doors at Meher Mount – but didn’t set the floor-to-ceiling curtains on fire.

FIRE RECOVERY

Sam Ervin has written a preliminary damage outline and is coordinating with an insurance adjuster who plans to assess the damage the week of December 18, 2017. 

The team is also identifying resources and costs for repairing the water system. At an initial glance, the issues are melted PVC pipes, two burned electrical panels, electric wires, and replacing an onzonator with UV light. A full assessment cannot be made until there is power at Meher Mount, and the electrical box is repaired or replaced.

First estimates were that it would take one-to-three months for Southern California Edison to return power to Sulphur Mountain. On December 12 when we drove up Highway 150 from Santa Paula toward Meher Mount, there were power crews all along the way, cutting down fallen limbs and restoring power lines. There were also a couple of crews along Sulphur Mountain Road. So, progress is being made.

In the coming weeks and months, there will be a more detailed plan of action. Thank you to all who have volunteered and donated. Stay tuned.

THE THOMAS FIRE CONTINUES

While the news for Meher Mount is good, the news for many others in the path of the Thomas Fire – past and present – is not so bright. Please continue your prayers for those who are still threatened, those who are now faced with recovery, and for those fighting the fires day after day.

 FIRE AND EVACUATION MAP for the Thomas Fire as of December 15, 2017. It is estimated that only 35% of the 252,500-acre fire is contained. It has destroyed 972 structures to date. Total personnel fighting the fire is 8,369. (Source: CalFire)

FIRE AND EVACUATION MAP for the Thomas Fire as of December 15, 2017. It is estimated that only 35% of the 252,500-acre fire is contained. It has destroyed 972 structures to date. Total personnel fighting the fire is 8,369. (Source: CalFire)

On Friday, December 15, 2017, CalFire reported that 252,500 acres had been burned, and the Thomas Fire was 35% contained. The expected containment is estimated to be January 7, 2018. There has been one firefighter fatality and no civilian fatalities. A total of 972 structures have been destroyed, and 94,607 citizens have been evacuated or affected.

The firefighting statistics: 8,369 total fire personnel; 1,012 fire engines; 158 fire crews; 32 helicopters; 78 dozers; and 62 water tenders.

In looking at the burned areas in Santa Paula and on Sulphur Mountain, you can see that the fire came to the edges of a number of homes and yards. There were handmade signs along the road thanking the firefighting crews. It’s been a long siege, and the firefighters are still on the fire lines.  

TOTALLY RANDOM OR DIVINELY ORCHESTRATED?

In passing through the fire areas surrounding Meher Mount, walking Meher Mount's property, and talking to neighbors, the pattern of the fire felt that it was either divinely orchestrated or totally random.

Some would say, that “totally random" is "divinely orchestrated." 

No one can understand my ways. I am beyond your understanding. [2]
— Avatar Meher Baba
 A BLACKENED STONE SIGN for Avatar's Point, charred and burned Adirondack chairs, and an incredible view remain after the Thomas Fire. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, December 12, 2017)

A BLACKENED STONE SIGN for Avatar's Point, charred and burned Adirondack chairs, and an incredible view remain after the Thomas Fire. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, December 12, 2017)


FOOTNOTES

[1] Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher: The Biography of the Avatar of the Age Meher Baba, Online Edition, pg. 1209, accessed December 15, 2017.  (c)Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust.
[2] Kalchuri, ibid., pg. 4068



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