After The Canyon Fire....BAER
Incident: Canyon Wildfire
Date: September 25, 2010 Contact: Cindy Thill, Public Affairs/Fire
For Immediate Release Phone: (760) 376-3781, # 625
After the Canyon Fire...
The Canyon Fire was reported at approximately 2:00 p.m Sunday, September 12, 2010. The fire is located in the Lower Kern Canyon, below and west of Lake Isabella. The fire started near Delonegha on the south side of the Lower Kern River. The fire quickly spread to both sides of the Kern River, jumping over the Old Kern Canyon Road and back across Highway 178, resulting in active fire on both sides of the two roads. The fire burned approximately 9,820 acres of National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and Private Lands.
Forest fires attract the most attention when they're actively burning, but a threat remains after the flames have died down. The focus of Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Teams on national forests is a rapid assessment of post-wildfire threats to life, property and natural and cultural resources. BAER work is focused on short-term stabilization actions to help burn areas get through several seasons, especially the first critical winter, to reduce risk to people and property. These risks frequently include debris flows, increased risk of flooding, rock fall, and soil erosion. These impacts can be a significant distance from their point of initiation or even from the boundaries of the burned area.
Television images of advancing flames and blackened foundations of burned homes remind us of the awesome destructive force of wildfires in Southern California. Later, there are often stories from the same places of floods and debris flows when the seasonal rains begin. The "fire-flood cycle" is a phenomenon recognized in southern California as early as the 1930s. It results from the loss of vegetation in the water runoff areas (watersheds) leading to rapid runoff and increased sediment being washed down stream channels.
The Canyon Fire BAER Team arrived in Kernville this past week. The team is composed of multi-agency, multi-disciplined resource specialists that are assembled to assess post fire watershed response, fire damage, fire suppression efforts and prepare mitigation measures. The team consists of hydrologists, soil scientists, geologists, Geographic Information System (GIS) specialists, archaeologists, botanists, wildlife specialists, and trail specialists.
If threats to Values at Risk (VAR) exist, treatments are recommended to minimize damage from precipitation events on the burned area and to protect people, homes, roads, and other infrastructure. The recommended treatments may include, but are not limited to: heli-mulching, contour log felling, straw wattles, installation of safety signing, installing additional drainage structures/clearing culverts, repairing roads, stormproofing trails, and notifying affected entities.
The team evaluated slope, vegetation, soils, burn severity, watershed condition, and any specific implications of the burn area. After identifying threats to "values at risk" (VAR) on the Canyon Fire, the team will compile and present the findings to the Sequoia National Forest, cooperators and affected entities, containing recommended stabilization treatments and follow-up actions.
BAER post-wildland fire treatments are completed within a year of containment.