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Author Topic: St. Herman's Monastery in Platina has been evaucated due to fires in NorCal--Updates  (Read 3602 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: June 24, 2008, 08:30:49 PM »

Most Holy Theotokos, the Unburnt Bush, pray for us!

Please see the latest entry on my blog http://thetraditionalfrog.blogspot.com for some more info. I will provide updates as I get them.

I am trying to contact my parish priest, Fr Stevan, to see if he has had any contact with them (or other folks in the area) or has any further info. I will pass along any news he may have.

Also, please pray for my parish as it prepares to host the annual Bulgarian diocesan convention in July. Metropolitan JOSEPH will be present during this time.
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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2008, 09:44:03 PM »

This is the nearest/primary monastery to my parish.
I just received this forward from our popadija:

Quote

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Please keep St. Herman's Monastery in your prayers. See below! In Christ, Popadija...


Letter to His Grace Bishop Maxim from Fr. Damascene:

Your Grace,
Bless, Master!
Please pray: a fire is close to our monastery, and we are evacuating.
If the wind changes, the monastery could burn down today. We are
taking our most essential items to Redding.
Asking Your Archpastoral blessings and prayers,

In Christ,
Fr. Damascene
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2008, 08:37:21 AM »

According to this account, the St. Herman's Brotherhood has been evacuated due to the forest fires in the area.

www.redding.com/news/2008/jun/24/updated-information-released-national-forest-servi/


I am sure they would appreciate your prayers.

Thomas
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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2008, 04:25:36 PM »

from Fr. Michael Boyle in Redding:

Quote
Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,
 
The Monks have evacuated from Platina and are now in Redding with us
(St. Andrew's).  They brought down all of their vehicles loaded with
possessions of the Monastery.  They are collected at one parishioners
home right now and we will be finding them accommodations this evening.
The fires are still raging.  The forest Service just set a back fire on
Noble Ridge (the winds were favorable) as a mans of cutting out fuel for
the main fire to go over the Ridge.  The smoke at Platina was so thick
you could barely see or breathe.  We will be having Vespers and Compline
at St. Andrews tonight.
 
The nuns at St. Xenia Skete are still there and have not had to evacuate
yet, but are on high alert.  Two of our parishioners went up today with
trucks to bring down Monastery possessions to Redding We still are
awaiting to see what they will be doing.
 
The Monastics will probably be staying in Redding for a while, secondary
to the extreme fire conditions (over 875 fires are going in Northern
California from a Saturday lightening strike) and the smoke is quite
thick.  The sky in Redding is like overcast with ash falling.
 
Please keep them all in your prayers.  We ask God's help to send relief
to the Monastics, the fire fighters and others made homeless.
 
Thank you for your prayers and blessings to all of you,
 
Fr. Michael Boyle
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2008, 04:26:30 PM »

Another update:

Quote
Dear Friends in Christ,

I just heard from M. Magdelena Boyle that for now the monastery is safe.  Glory be to God!  The monks are in Redding.  The fire has moved south.  We own the property next to Platina - down hill - please keep us in your prayers as well.   I also heard that a fire threatens the St. Xenia's Skete as well.  They are on alert for another fire is one mile away. Please keep all of us in your prayers.  There are over 800 fires burning in CA right now with more lightning storms on the way. 

God bless all of you.
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2008, 05:17:26 PM »

Glory to God!  May the fires be swiftly put out without any loss of life.
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2008, 12:51:39 PM »

Quote
Mother Dorothea reported on Wednesday that the nuns and Fr. Herman are still at Wildwood; they’re all packed up to evacuate but haven’t received word that they have to go yet.  Yesterday all their most precious valuables were taken to Redding by parish members.  Last night the fire fighters made good progress against the fire which is to the northwest of the Skete across the highway.  She thanks everyone for their prayers and asks you to continue, as the property is still at risk.  There are three fires in their vicinity, moving at different rates from separate centers.

Yours in the Lord,
Kate
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« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2008, 12:52:00 PM »

Quote
Dear Kate,

Please let Fr. Stevan and all know we are not out of danger. I was up there today at 15:00 today and spoke with the district supervisor of the fire crew. They are planning to do a back burn today, just waiting for a little more favorable conditions. The fire had slightly broken over the ridge leading down into the gorge from "Whispering Pines" ( I think most folks will know where that is) - so it has moved closer. The fire crew however is very pleased with the fire behavior - it has given them time to prepare more fully for the back burn.

The fire had gone down into the gorge east of that and crossed over and was burning up the other side and had gone south and east - closer to directly below the monastery. There is a fire break all through that area.
The whole situation is not as bad as it was, thank God, but it could become worse. please keep praying.
So, we are all spending the night in Redding again
With love in Christ,

Fr. Paisii
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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2008, 11:30:13 AM »

Thanks be to God!

The last report I have indicates that the fire has gone in a direction away from the monastery.  The brothers remain at their safe location pending authorization by Park Rangers and Fire Marshalls to return to the Monastery at this time.

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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2008, 11:36:50 AM »

Glory to God and Lord have mercy on all those affected by the wildfires.
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2008, 05:56:26 PM »

Quote
update from Monk Paisii (Thursday, 5:30 pm):
 
+
Dear Kate and all,
We just got a call from the nuns, they’ve been ordered to evacuate and will come to Redding this evening. Fr. Herman is with them and we will take care of him once they get to Redding. The monastery in Platina is still intact by God’s merciful Providence, but not out of danger. The town of Platina was evacuated this morning and a new fire at the Sylvester ranch has sprung up. This is about 12 miles from Platina on A16 – the windy road from Redding that is the most common route from there to the monastery. Ash from that fire is falling in Platina itself.
 
Please keep praying! There is a chance of more thunderstorms this late Friday and into Saturday also. Lord have mercy.
 
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Paisius
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« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2008, 05:57:19 PM »

Quote
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
     
The fire near Platina has sprouted a new front to the east and north of the monastery, and is rapidly advancing just to the east of the monastery road, to the northeast of the monastery. There is immediate danger for the monastery and the others who live along the ridge there.  To the north the fire has crossed Hwy 36, and is moving towards Platina itself from the east.  The older Platina firefront to the south and west isn’t advancing, it appears.
     
The Wildwood monastery is safe for now; the fires there are holding, at least a mile or two northwest from the Skete.
     
In Christ,
Kate
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« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2008, 06:36:59 PM »

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25373306

Quote
More than 1,000 fires, mostly caused by lightning, burned across Northern California...

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked President Bush on Friday for a federal emergency declaration to free up more aid, saying the fires this season had burned 265,000 acres, or more than 400 square miles.
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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2008, 01:55:31 PM »

Quote
Friday, Jun 27, 2008 11:58 AM

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
     
The fire near Platina has sprouted a new front to the east and north of the monastery, and is rapidly advancing just to the east of the monastery road, to the northeast of the monastery. There is immediate danger for the monastery and the others who live along the ridge there.  To the north the fire has crossed Hwy 36, and is moving towards Platina itself from the east.  The older Platina firefront to the south and west isn’t advancing, it appears.
     
The Wildwood monastery is safe for now; the fires there are holding, at least a mile or two northwest from the Skete.
     
In Christ,
Kate
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« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2008, 01:55:50 PM »

Quote
Friday, June 27, 2008 6:42 PM

Dear Friends in Christ,

God Bless you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We did talk with our neighbor Gordon, he did not evacuate, but has been helping the fire crews.  He said that they have bull dozed all around our properties, did a back fire to create a fire break and that for now the fire has not harmed our properties.  That was encouraging news. We are by no means out of danger, but at least we have some words from an eyewitness.  We called the Platina General store and he was there and they are open - also encouraging.  The perimeter of the fire is quite close though.

Thanks for your prayerful support - Keep it coming.

Gregory and Veronica
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« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2008, 01:56:48 PM »

Quote
Friday, June 27, 2008 - 3:42 p.m.

An Update from Fr. Damascene:

Your Grace,Bless, Master!

It was very encouraging to talk with You and Priest Blasko today. We have been contacting forest rangers today to find out about the fires in the area of our monasteries. The fires are growing, and the whole area remains evacuated. The "Noble Fire," which originally endangered our monastery, is no longer an immediate threat to the monastery. It has moved east. Meanwhile, the "Graves Ranch Fire" to the northeast of Platina is spreading rapidly to the south. Firefighters are concerned that it will meet and join the Noble Fire, in which case the whole area would be in greater danger: not just Platina, but the towns of Ono and Igo, closer to Redding. As I mentioned in my last email, ash from the Graves Ranch fire is falling in Platina, which could start fires in Platina. The Graves Ranch fire grew from 3,200 to 5,000 acres overnight. Another cause for concern is the weather forecast of dry lightning (lightning without rain) for this evening through Sunday evening. Dry lightning is what caused the thousands of fires in northern California in the first place. This time, there is a little more chance of some precipitation along with the lightning. The forecast says 30% chance of lightning, with 15% chance of rain. We pray that God will send some rain to help put out the fires. The nuns of St. Xenia Skete are staying near Redding. The fire that is most endangering their skete is the "Telephone Fire" north of Wildwood, because it is now moving southward. We've been unable to get more precise details on this fire. It seems to still be a good distance from the skete, but that could change if the winds keep blowing it southward. We rely on Your prayers and those of all the faithful. All is in the hands of God. As we read about our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel reading assigned for yesterday: "The men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!" (Matt. 8:27).

Asking Your Archpastoral blessings and prayers,

In Christ, hieromonk Damascene
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« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2008, 01:57:13 PM »

I recieved this e-mail today, but believe that it may be dated, but gives a good view of what was happening in California baout the time of my first posting in the words of Father Damascene:

Greetings to all Fathers, Deacons, subscribers and friends of Death to the World,

Christ is in our midst!

The home of our magazine and Brotherhood, the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina California, has been forced to evacuate due to forest fires. As many of you know, this Monastery was founded by Blessed Seraphim Rose and contains many relics of his life. His cell, grave, printshop, etc., are all in danger of being burned. The beautiful convent, which he also founded, has also been forced to evacuate and is in danger of being burned.

I would like to ask all the Faithful to please pray to the Mother of God, St. John of San Francisco, and St. Herman that the monasteries and it’s treasures would be spared. I would also encourage you all to ask your Priest to serve a Molebien for the welfare of the Monasteries and the Monastics who live there.

Any Priests and Clergy, we would like to ask for your worthy prayers for the Protection of such a holy place and beacon of Orthodoxy for America. Please pray for the Monastery and its Monastics at the Holy Alter and during the Litanies. Please serve a Molebien to help and protect them.

Any one outside of America should know that St. Herman Monastery is very important to us here in America. Blessed Seraphim Rose, who is venerated as a Saint in many countries, founded this Monastery and pioneered the translation of Orthodox literature into English here. He is a beacon to us and long after his repose, his Monastery has been a safe haven to all the suffering souls in America.

St. Herman’s and St. Xenia’s have a huge place in our hearts. Many of us here at Death to the World have a lot of history at these Holy places, especially in the history of our conversions. May God save Platina by the protection of our Holy Hierarch, St. John, and his worthy disciple, Blessed Seraphim Rose.

God be with you all. Keep us in your prayers as we are travelling to the Cornerstone festival.


Below is the latest update of the condition of the Monastery by Hieromonk Damascene in a letter to Bishop MAXIM:Thursday, June 26, 2008 - 5:29 p.m.

Fr. Damascene informs Bishop Maxim that the Nuns from the St. Xenia Skete in Wildwood are being evacuated
Your Grace,
Bless, Master!
I am writing from Dmitar Karr's home in Shingletown. The monks are here with me, together with our trucks loaded with things from the monastery. I just heard from the nuns of St. Xenia Skete in Wildwood. They are being told to evacuate by the sheriff, due to a fire coming from the west. Ash is falling in the skete now from that fire to the west. Meanwhile, we heard that, in the town of Platina, ash is falling from a new fire to the northeast of the town. This is dangerous in itself, since falling ash can itself start fires.
The nuns will be staying in Redding, probably at the home of Macarius Salyer. They will be leaving the skete soon.
I just looked at the Diocesan website, and saw the webpage about the fires endangering our monasteries. We are very thankful for all that You've done to get the word out and ask for prayers.

Asking Your Archpastoral blessings and prayers,

In Christ,
hieromonk Damascene 
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« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2008, 01:58:08 PM »

Here is another article on the Fire, dated yesterday:

Winds clear air for tankers, fan flames
Noble Fire pushes 300 from Platina, destroys Tehama County home
By Scott Mobley ( Contact )
Friday, June 27, 2008

Article used with permission from Redding.com

Hot north winds shoved wildfire smoke out of the far northern Sacramento Valley on Thursday, allowing air tankers to fight some of the 250 blazes chewing through more than 40,000 acres of north state timber and brush.

But the winds that banished the ashen overcast for a day also incited flames that had been relatively docile under the thick smoke pall.

The Motion Fire west of Shasta Dam belched a thick orange-gray plume into the skies over Shasta Lake and Redding on Thursday afternoon as it ate up flammable brush. Officials put its size at 5,000 acres Thursday night with 10 percent containment. Dozers were building fire lines on the south and west sides of the fire.

The Motion Fire is one of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's biggest concerns, spokesman Mike Witesman said. Firefighters want to keep flames away from the dam and transmission lines that send power down south.

"We're trying to keep it on the west side of the river and away from the facilities at the dam," Witesman said.Earlier Thursday afternoon, mandatory evacuations were in effect for the historic Coram Ranch west of Shasta Dam because of the Motion Fire.

The burgeoning Noble Fire forced 300 evacuations in Platina early Thursday and destroyed a home in northwestern Tehama County. The Democrat Fire pushed out six Iron Mountain Road households on Thursday afternoon. The Telephone Fire prompted authorities to ask for voluntary evacuations in the town of Wildwood, where the St. Xenia Skete convent sits.



Authorities closed Highway 36 from 31 miles west of Red Bluff to Highway 3 in Trinity County as fires encroached on the road. Highway 299 was closed from eight miles west of Weaverville to 23 miles east.

Cal Fire has spent $3 million fighting the Shasta County fires so far, spokesman Roy Del Carlo said. That agency had mustered 1,055 firefighters Thursday, compared with 836 as of Wednesday morning and fewer than 600 on Tuesday.

The U.S. Forest Service has spent more than $4 million on the fires that have burned 23,227 acres in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday proclaimed a state of emergency in Shasta and Mendocino counties, opening the door for state emergency funding and possible federal aid.

Here is a list of the fires burning Thursday around the north state. Spokespersons from Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, the Southern Area Incident Management Team, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the National Park Service provided this information

Thomas

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« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2008, 02:00:57 PM »

Additional update from Father Damascene on Serbian Orthodox Church website: www.westsrbdio.org/prayer_appeal/st_herman_of_alaska_monastery.html

UPDATES FROM FR. DAMASCENE

Fr. Damascene of the St. Herman Monastery informs His Grace Bishop Maxim as news developements

Friday, June 27, 2008 - 3:42 p.m.

An Update from Fr. Damascene:

Your Grace,Bless, Master!

It was very encouraging to talk with You and Priest Blasko today. We have been contacting forest rangers today to find out about the fires in the area of our monasteries. The fires are growing, and the whole area remains evacuated. The "Noble Fire," which originally endangered our monastery, is no longer an immediate threat to the monastery. It has moved east. Meanwhile, the "Graves Ranch Fire" to the northeast of Platina is spreading rapidly to the south. Firefighters are concerned that it will meet and join the Noble Fire, in which case the whole area would be in greater danger: not just Platina, but the towns of Ono and Igo, closer to Redding. As I mentioned in my last email, ash from the Graves Ranch fire is falling in Platina, which could start fires in Platina. The Graves Ranch fire grew from 3,200 to 5,000 acres overnight. Another cause for concern is the weather forecast of dry lightning (lightning without rain) for this evening through Sunday evening. Dry lightning is what caused the thousands of fires in northern California in the first place. This time, there is a little more chance of some precipitation along with the lightning. The forecast says 30% chance of lightning, with 15% chance of rain. We pray that God will send some rain to help put out the fires. The nuns of St. Xenia Skete are staying near Redding. The fire that is most endangering their skete is the "Telephone Fire" north of Wildwood, because it is now moving southward. We've been unable to get more precise details on this fire. It seems to still be a good distance from the skete, but that could change if the winds keep blowing it southward. We rely on Your prayers and those of all the faithful. All is in the hands of God. As we read about our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel reading assigned for yesterday: "The men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!" (Matt. 8:27).

Asking Your Archpastoral blessings and prayers,

In Christ, hieromonk Damascene

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« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2008, 02:01:57 PM »

this thread already exists:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,16622.msg239714/topicseen.html#msg239714
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« Reply #20 on: June 28, 2008, 06:08:59 PM »

Has anyone heard anything about the Shingletown Fire, which, as of the last news report I could find (Monday, June 23), had threatened land near Manton, where the St. John of San Francisco (OCA) Men's Monastery is located?
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« Reply #21 on: June 28, 2008, 06:42:15 PM »

Has anyone heard anything about the Shingletown Fire, which, as of the last news report I could find (Monday, June 23), had threatened land near Manton, where the St. John of San Francisco (OCA) Men's Monastery is located?

Yeah, I noticed them...can't exactly breath that well here, when I was at the gym I wish I had some synthetic hemoglobin left to shoot up with. Most the fires are in the wilderness, but there are a handful of small communities that have been evacuated.
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« Reply #22 on: June 29, 2008, 06:11:53 AM »

I Didn't even know that St.Herman's  was a Serbian Monastery,,,God Bless And Protect them....SmileyCentral.com" border="0amen...
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ГОСПОДЕ ГОСПОДЕ ,ПОГЛЕДАЈ СА НЕБА ,ДОЂИ И ПОСЕТИ ТВОЈ ВИНОГРАД ТВОЈА ДЕСНИЦА ПОСАДИЛА АМИН АМИН.
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« Reply #23 on: June 29, 2008, 10:54:37 AM »

Quote
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Here is the latest from Fr. Damascene to His Grace Bishop Maxim:

_________________________
Update
From: Father Damascene
Date: June 28, 2008 9:01:28 AM HST
To: Bishop Maxim
Subject: Saturday update

Your Grace, Bless, Master!

Thanks be to God, the Noble Fire -- fire near our monastery in Platina -- has not spread much since yesterday. The Graves Ranch fire, several miles to the northeast, has grown quickly to 20,000 acres. Another fire, called the Motion Fire, is also growing rapidly near Shasta Dam, north of Redding, and is endangering the Shasta Dam Power Plant. If power goes out in Redding, many people would suffer, especially the elderly, in the hot climate. Right now, the three main dangers to the St. Herman Monastery are: 1) The dry lightning that is expected to begin falling very soon. This could start new fires. The weather forecast predicts thunderstorms through Sunday evening. 2) The ashes from the Graves Fire, which are still falling and are igniting many spot fires. The ashes are being blown as far as Platina. 3) The Noble Fire, which is still burning, and is also igniting other spot fires. Yesterday, the firefighters spent a lot of time putting out spot fires from the Noble Fire. It looks like only one got away from them, which happened on the east side of the "R-Ranch." It remains very difficult to find out information on the Telephone Fires threatening St. Xenia Skete in Wildwood. Weather forecasts predict a small chance of rain with the expected thunderstorms. Please pray that the Lord sends rain from heaven to help put out the fires.

Asking Your Archpastoral blessings and prayers, In Christ, hieromonk Damascene
_________________________

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Fr. Michael
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« Reply #24 on: June 29, 2008, 11:48:12 PM »

This topic was split off from the following prayer thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,16622.new.html#new

We did this so that the prayer thread may be purely for prayer and so this may be the thread for updates on the situation.  Please post updates here.  Thank you.
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« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2008, 02:50:55 PM »

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Sunday, June 29, 2008 9:59 PM
Subject: Platina Fire Update - Sunday Evening

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Glory be to God!  Tonight we have good news, which is coming from several sources so it appears to be accurate.
The fire maps are usually not very current, as they are only updated once or twice daily.
The fire in the Wildwood area is still burning but remains over a mile to the northwest of the Skete and is not advancing in that direction, it appears.

Your sister in Christ,
Kate
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« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2008, 02:51:41 PM »

Report from the newspaper in Redding:

Quote
Firefighters gain ground in Shasta County

By Constance Dillon (Contact), Rob Rogers (Contact)
Originally published 08:58 p.m., June 29, 2008
Updated 09:06 p.m., June 29, 2008

The mandatory evacuation for the Platina area was lifted by fire officials Sunday evening and Highway 36 is reopened, a spokesman for the Shasta County Sheriff's office said.

In another report:  Evacuations have been lifted for the Platina area and Highway 36 has been reopened, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service said Sunday evening.
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« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2008, 02:52:02 PM »

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A report from a Redding radio station, updated by Cal Fire at 3:30 pm Sunday afternoon, indicates that they now have a complete 'perimeter' around the main Noble fire which threatened the monastery, and were working to 'mop up' a large spot fire.
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« Reply #28 on: June 30, 2008, 02:52:38 PM »

Here's a report just received (9 pm) from Veronica (Polly) Hughes, who owns property next to the monastery:


Quote
Dear Fr. Paissi and Sr. Kate,

I called the phone number for the Lyme Complex and got a live person!  They have the Noble Fire 81% contained!  She said they finally feel they have a handle on it.   Hwy 36 is now open.  Call 226-2368 for updates.  The perimeter map on the internet of our fire around Platina was not as encouraging - but perhaps that is because they finally have the perimeter contained?

Love,
Veronica
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« Reply #29 on: July 02, 2008, 08:32:56 AM »

Here is the report of father Damascene for June 30:

From: Father Damascene
Date: Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 5:59 PM
Subject: Mon June 30 Update: Monks Back at the Monastery
To: Bishop Maxim

Your Grace, Bless, Master!

We have now returned to the St. Herman Monastery, and are busy unpacking our vehicles. Thanks be to God, the whole monastery, as well as our office two miles away, was untouched by the fire. However, three "sketes" on the other (south) side of our ridge were scorched. These "sketes" are actually sites for the celebration of the Divine services outdoors, and were created during the time of Hieromonk Seraphim of blessed memory. The "sketes" that are damaged are: Transfiguration Skete, St. Elias Skete, and "Mount Athos." Some of us went to along our ridge to see the extent of the fire. Most of the back side of the ridge directly above our monastery is totally burnt, from the fire break down into the Beegum Gorge. Also, sections of the mountains on the other side of the gorge are burnt. Along the south side of the road which leads beyond our monastery up Beegum Gorge, the manzanita bushes and trees are scorched along the bottom, but not totally burnt. The east side of the road leading up to the monastery from Hiway 36 is partially burnt as well. We're not sure at this point which of these areas along the road were burnt due to the wildfires, and which were burnt in the controlled burns ("back burns") that the fire crews did in order to stop the spread of the wildfires. None of the burned areas are visible from the monastery itself. The cells further away from the monastery, including Hieromonk Seraphim's cell and the cells toward the top of the ridge, are all fine. People in the town of Platina told us today that it's a miracle that our monastery was not destroyed in the fire. As the locals know, the fire had been headed right for our monastery last Monday and Tuesday. On Tuesday morning, winds were expected to blow the fire northeastward, over our ridge. If that had happened, the monastery, as the closest human dwelling to the top of the ridge, would have been quickly devoured by the flames. The threat was so real that the fire crew was clearing out areas around the monastery buildings, so that if the fire swept through the monastery there would be a greater chance that the buildings would not be totally destroyed. Glory be to God, the fire never got that far. God had mercy on us, through the prayers of the faithful from all over the world. We cannot express the depth of our gratitude to all those who spread the word about the fires in order to call for prayers, and to all those who heard this call and implored our Lord to spare the monastery. It was not only the monastery that was spared. Since the fire did not rapidly spread over the ridge as it was originally expected to do, dwellings further down the north side of the ridge were also spared, including those in the town of Platina. Driving up to the monastery on Highway 36, I saw huge areas that had been burned up in the fire. It was not for nothing that so many people were evacuated. When one sees these burned up areas, including the charcoal-gray back side of our ridge, and then when one walks around the monastery, with green trees and grasses all around, one really feels that the Grace of God overshadowed the monastery and protected it. Our Lord heard the supplications poured out from so many hearts throughout the world. In giving thanks to God and to the faithful who prayed for us, we also wish to express our profound gratitude to the fire crews who have sacrificed themselves to protect the lives and homes of so many people in northern California during this past week, and who continue their heroic labor as fires continue to rage in other areas. The fire crew in Platina told us that they would do everything possible to save our monastery, and they truly fulfilled that promise. In going up the road beyond our monastery, we saw some small spot fires. The firefighters have been on the lookout for these, and even as we were going back down to the monastery, we passed some firefighters going to put out the spot fires. Also, we saw a helicopter down in the ridge, undoubtedly either reporting on or helping to put out spot fires. St. Xenia Skete in Wildwood is still on voluntary evacuation. I spoke with Nun Dorothea a few hours ago, as she was visiting the skete. She said the nuns will probably spend another night in Redding and then move back into the skete tomorrow. The firefighters are doing a controlled burn ("back burn") near the town of Wildwood a few miles north of the skete, and the forest rangers are suggesting that people remain evacuated until the controlled burn is finished. The area around Platina and our monastery is still hazy, but the sky is not filled with smoke as it was when we evacuated on Tuesday. We are of course very joyful to be back in our monastery, where we will celebrate a service of Thanksgiving to God. Thanking You again for Your Archpastoral prayers,
encouragement, and help, and asking Your blessings and continued prayers for us,

In Christ, hieromonk Damascene
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« Reply #30 on: July 02, 2008, 08:33:45 AM »

Here is the July 1st report from Father Damascene:

From: Father Damascene
Date: Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 1:47 PM
Subject: Tues July 1 Update: Nuns still evacuated
To: Bishop Maxim

Your Grace, Bless, Master!

St. Xenia Skete in Wildwood is still under voluntary evacuation. I spoke with Nun Dorothea today (Tuesday). She said that the firefighters have not yet done the controlled burn ("back burn") near the town of Wildwood, about three miles north of the skete. The controlled burn will be done in order to stop the advance of the Telephone Fire that is close to Wildwood. Although such controlled burns are usually successful, sometimes the fire gets out of control. Therefore, the forest rangers are advising that people remain evacuated until the controlled burn is finished. The nuns will stay in Redding until they get they hear that the burn is successful and that the voluntary evacuation notice has been lifted. Hopefully the controlled burn will happen today, and the nuns will be able to return home tomorrow, on the feast of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. The forest rangers told Mother Dorothea that both Platina and Wildwood should remain on alert, since the fires in the area are still not fully under control. Besides the Telephone Fire north of Wildwood, the western end of the Noble Fire, between Platina and Wildwood, is still burning. The ability of the firefighters to contain these fires will depend on the weather over the next several days. We ask that the faithful continue to pray for us, especially for the nuns of St. Xenia Skete. Asking Your Archpastoral blessings and prayers,
In Christ,
hieromonk Damascene
 
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« Reply #31 on: July 07, 2008, 09:19:31 AM »

Here is the July 3 message from father Damascene that was posted after the fourth on the Diocese website:
Nuns Return to St. Xenia Skete

From: Father Damascene
Date: Thu, Jul 3, 2008 at 5:23 PM
Subject: Nuns Return to Skete; More Indications of God's Mercy
To: Bishop Maxim

Your Grace, Bless, Master!

Thanks be to God, we just heard that the nuns are returning to St. Xenia Skete today. The fires in their area are now more under control, and those in our area are almost all put out. Today a fire crew walked along the top of our ridge with Monk Nicolas, to check for and put out spot fires. Over the past few days, we learned more from the fire crews about what happened at our monastery during our evacuation. It turns out that the monastery had been in even greater danger than we first thought on returning to it on Monday. The captain of one of the fire crews said that they had not  done back-fires on the ridge directly above our monastery; they had only done a back-fire on the western side of the mountain, along western side of the road leading down from the monastery to the town of Platina. This means that the fire at the top of our ridge was not a controlled back-fire, but the actual wildfire that came shooting from the gorge to the southeast. The fire captain said that, when the wildfire reached the top of the ridge, the flames were up to 30 feet in the air. The fire crew thought that the fire might well jump the fire break they had created, igniting the upper branches of the trees on the other side. If that had happened, they would not have been able to stop the fire from going down the other side of the ridge and engulfing the monastery. By the Grace of God, and through the prayers of the faithful, the fire did not catch the upper part of the trees on the monastery side of the fire break. However, at the very top of the ridge, at Transfiguration Skete, some cinders from the fire started a ground fire on the monastery side, burning up the fallen leaves and the bottom of the trees for 50-75 yards. The firefighters were able to stop this fire when it got as close as 50 yards from the "Valaam" cell. Thus, they were able to save all the buildings -- just barely. It is amazing to see how close we came to losing the monastery to the fire, and it is both inspiring and humbling to see how God clearly showed His mercy by stopping it just in time. On the morning of the evacuation (Tuesday, June 11/24), I went to our Mt. Athos "skete" atop our ridge, blessing the area with holy water and singing hymns to the Mother of God, asking her to protect the monastery. I placed an "Axion Estin" icon of her, which was commemorated that day, on top of the altar table at "Mt. Athos," praying that she would not let the fire past that point. When I went to "Mt. Athos" after we had returned to the monastery, I found that the icon had fallen off the altar table, but that both the icon and the altar table were totally unharmed. The Mt. Athos skete was not on the monastery side of the fire break, but on the other side, where the wildfire was. The wildfire scorched the area around the altar table and the icon, leaving charcoal debris all around, and stopped right at the edge of the table. Also, the cross along the road past our monastery was totally unharmed, but the wooden bench right next to it had been burnt up by the fire. Such are little indications to us of the heavenly protection that our monastery received from our Lord Jesus Christ and His Most Holy Mother. Asking Your Archpastoral blessings and prayers,
In Christ,
hieromonk Damascene

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