Fire Officials Update Public in Huntington on Post-Fire Plans

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Now that the Seeley Fire is approaching full containment, post-fire plans are being made to rehabilitate the devastated areas affected by the fire.В Citizens and officials met at Canyon View Junior High School in Huntington Wednesday morning to speak about the plans.

Ferron District Ranger Darren Olsen spoke to the crowd concerning post-fire tactics and plans that are already in motion. Olsen introduced their first big plan which is to bring in BAER, or Burned Area Emergency Response, to survey the damaged areas and come up with aВ rehabilitationВ plan. According to Sandee Dingman of Eastern Arizona Incident Management, BAER is a federal program designed to protect life, property, and critical resources.В The team will create a soil burn severity map and model watershed responses. Typical treatments consist of installing early warning systems, increase road drainage capacity, changes in road engineering design, along with some 50 additional treatments.

“These people are experts at what they do,” Olsen said.

EasternВ Arizona’s Tom Goheen then updated those in attendance on the current condition of the fire. Eastern Arizona will be passing fire operations over Friday to a local team headed by Incident Commander Kevin Cahill.

A slideshow of videos and pictures was shown by Dingman chronicling flooding issues in the canyon. She also mentioned the difficulty in cleaning up after fires.

“When the smoke leaves and clears, it doesn’t mean theВ emergencyВ is over,” she warned. “What we are seeing now is what we are going to see the rest of the summer because intense storms will happen later and create worse problems.”

Another plan of attack will come in the form or RAWS or Remote Automatic Weather Stations, said Kelly Allen from Eastern Arizona’s Fire Behavioral Analysis Group. These very small devices will track wind speed, temperature, and humidity. Three RAWS are already in use on Monument Mountain, near Cleveland Reservoir, and on Drop Point 60. RAWS will be in place until the BAER team finishes its analysis of the burned area which can take up to a month or more.

The meeting ended with a question and answer period. The following are two questions that were asked:

Q: Does BAER plant seeds?

A: They will seed small areas impacted by suppression areas. It is a long term rehab.

Q: What is the time frame for installation of early warning systems?

A: We have ordered inВ newВ ones and the technicians will be out there Friday putting them out and setting them up so Saturday they should be in place.

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