BY MAIRE O’NEILL
The Rocky Mountain Incident Response Operations Section Chief for the Cerro Pelado Fire, Nicholas Collado, reported Sunday that crews have removed hose and pumps from the Bandelier National Monument area and are removing the structure wrap from the staff housing and visitor information center. Collado said crews have also removed some of the suppression-related items in the cabin area of the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
Collado stressed that conditions in the fire area remain extreme. Temperatures Sunday were expected to remain cool with higher relative humidity with light winds in the morning increasing to 10-15 mph in the afternoon.
Some 607 personnel remain on the fire. Crews have started some backhaul operations in areas where the containment line is established. There is extensive patrolling of firelines to check for heat as well as ongoing chipping work and suppression rehab repair. Resources currently at the fire include one Type 1 hand crew, 11 Type II hand crews, 27 engines, 3 dozers, 18 water tenders, four ambulances and four helicopters.
Meanwhile, Santa Fe National Forest officials have announced the establishment of a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team to begin the assessment of National Forest System lands impacted by the fire. BAER teams coordinate special actions needed after major wildfires for public and community safety due to issues such as soil erosion and flooding and recommend emergency measures to protect values at risk for further damage as a result of the fire.
BAER teams focus on emergency actions necessary to protect human life and safety, property, and natural and cultural resources, including affected watersheds. BAER assessments identify unacceptable risks on federal lands from post-fire threats and help land managers prepare burned areas for potential threats from rainstorms. Burned areas often experience increased soil erosion and runoff from rainstorms.
The BAER team for the Cerro Pelado Fire includes hydrologists, soil scientists, road engineers, botanists, biologists, archaeologists, recreation specialists, and geographic information system (GIS) specialists. They will use pre-fire and post-fire satellite imagery and data to produce a soil burn severity map, which will provide baseline information on changed watershed conditions and potential watershed impacts from the fire. The team will then recommend emergency stabilization and other actions where needed in the area.
For more information on the BAER team, go to https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/8118/68722/