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Forest Service BAER team begins Mullen Fire burn area assessment

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 12:04 AM CDT
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LARAMIE, Wyo., (Release) – Saturday, Oct. 10, a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team assembled by the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests began working to assess post-fire hazards within and downstream of the Mullen Fire burned area. The fire is currently 30% contained and weather will soon change to decrease fire activity. With winter weather conditions expected in the coming weeks, this team will work quickly to conduct an assessment of the burned area and determine the potential for increased post-fire flooding, erosion potential, debris flows, and hazard trees before snow covers the burn area. The BAER team consists of hydrologists, soil scientists, road engineers, biologists, and archaeologists.

The Mullen Fire began in the Savage Run Wilderness on Thursday, Sept. 17, and spread rapidly in extremely rugged terrain, with dense vegetation and beetle-killed deadfall. The fire has burned over 176,213 acres. At its widest points, the fire is 25 miles north to south and 23 miles east to west. The Mullen Fire has impacted the Savage Run and Platte River Wilderness Areas, the North Platte River, and public and private lands in Albany and Carbon Counties in Wyoming and Jackson County, Colorado.

One of the products the BAER team will produce is a map showing the levels of impacts to soils within the fire area’s watersheds. The soil burn severity map and the team’s analysis and modeling can provide information and findings relevant to private and public lands, but the team’s assessment report and treatment recommendations focus on Forest Service lands. The team will also work with U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) to have an emergency assessment of post-fire debris-flow hazards, which will be available on the USGS website once the assessment is complete.

The assessment and stabilization treatments focus on protecting human life and safety, property, and critical natural and cultural resources. The team will coordinate their assessment with other federal agencies, Wyoming and Colorado state agencies, and local agencies in Albany, Carbon, and Jackson counties.

The BAER team anticipates that it will take approximately 17 days to complete their burn area assessment report that will be reviewed by the Forest Supervisor and approved by the Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region. After approval, funding will be available for the recommended emergency stabilization to begin implementation.

SPECIAL NOTE: Everyone near and downstream from the burned areas should remain alert and stay updated on weather conditions that may result in heavy precipitation over the burn scars. Flash flooding may occur quickly during heavy rain events. Current weather and emergency notifications for your area can be found at the National Weather Service website: weather.gov/cys/ (Cheyenne, WY) and weather.gov/bou/ (Boulder, CO). For more information on the Mullen Fire, the Mullen Fire InciWeb page.

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