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BAER Team Assembled To Assess Fire Damage

on June 16, 2013 - 10:10am

SFNF News:

Rehabilitation of fire damage will be addressed by the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team.

Specialists of different disciplines will work with the various agencies and pueblos affected by the Thompson Ridge Fire to assess damage and recommend actions to protect the burned area and mitigate hazards.

A BAER team is established for all fires greater than 300 acres. The BAER team leader is typically selected by the Forest Supervisor in late spring, at the start of the fire season. This leader initiates action when the fire is about 60 percent contained. After quickly evaluating the types of risks present, the leader assembles a core team of professionals such as hydrologists, soil scientists, engineers, biologists, vegetation specialists, and archeologists, primarily from the local area.

For large fires or complex fires, experienced BAER team members are brought in from the Southwest region. Within a few days of arriving on site, the BAER leader selects core team members, develops an organization chart, and drafts logistics. By 85 percent containment, the entire interdisciplinary team will have been assembled.

BAER:

  • A Forest Service BAER assessment team has been assembled to begin their on-the-ground analysis for the recent Thompson Ridge wildfire that burned approximately 24,000 acres on the Valles Caldera National Preserve (www.vallescaldera.gov/).
  • BAER assessment teams are comprised of specialists that are highly experienced in conducting rapid watershed assessments and analysesand may include soil scientists, hydrologists, geologists, biologists, geographic information system specialists, archeologists, botanists, silviculturists, and civil engineers.
  • The BAER team is working for Valles Caldera National Preserve and coordinating with tribal groups, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Fish and Wildlife Service, state agencies, counties, cities, and other local agencies in support of their rapid BAER assessment efforts.
  • After the BAER assessment report is finalized, it will be shared with affected local, county, state, tribal and other federal agencies.
  • If the BAER assessment team determines that an emergency condition exists, a variety of emergency response actions could be recommended. Specialists may recommend enlarging or unplugging culverts, and removing structures that could block water flow, trap sediment, or impact water quality. The team may recommend certain areas be posted with warning signs, barriers, and/or closures to limit access to hazardous areas. Some areas within the fire may not be suitable for these actions due to many factors such as the steepness of the slope, certain types of soils, and access to the area.
  • One of the most effective BAER emergency action is to continue interagency coordination with local cooperators.
  • Even after prescribed emergency actions are implemented to minimize the post-fire risks, the burned area may still pose a risk to adjacent areas from potential mudflows and flash flooding. Residents living near burned areas need to monitor weather reports and public safety bulletins, and be aware of current weather conditions and forecasts.

Thompson Ridge BAER Team information is available at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3404/.


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