Burned Area Emergency Response Team Assessing Fire Severity in #TunnelFire

May 2nd, 2022 at 12:30 PM

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., May 2, 2022 — A Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team, led by Brendan Waterman, began making burned area surveys of the Tunnel Fire this past Saturday. BAER team assessments are rapid evaluations of post-fire conditions of the burned landscape to determine the level of risk from potential flooding and debris flow to values on National Forest System lands such as human life, safety, property, and critical natural and cultural resources. If unacceptable risks are found the team recommends appropriate and effective emergency stabilization measures to reduce the risks to National Forest lands and values.

BAER teams conduct field surveys and use science-based models to rapidly evaluate and assess the burned area. BAER is an emergency program for stabilization work that involves time-critical activities to be completed before the first damaging storm event to meet program objectives.

BAER teams typically consist of scientists and specialists including hydrologists, geologists, soil scientists, road engineers, botanists, wildlife and fisheries biologists, archaeologists, recreation and trails specialists, and geographic information specialists, from federal and state agencies. BAER teams work together during the burned area surveys, field data analysis and modeling phase, to present findings along with recommended BAER treatments to the Forest Supervisor.

BAER teams analyze the data they collect during field surveys, to produce a “Soil Burn Severity” map. This is the first step in assessing potential watershed impacts from wildfires to values that may be at-risk from potential increased flooding, sedimentation, debris flows, and rockslides. BAER teams produce a report that includes a description of the assessment and findings for the burned area’s post-fire conditions along with recommended emergency stabilization measures and actions. BAER emergency stabilization efforts are focused on the protection of human life, safety and property, as well as critical cultural and natural resource values.

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