Vics Peak Fire – Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Post-Fire BAER Assessment

Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) specialists recently completed their data gathering and analysis for the Vic’s Peak Fire burn area to produce a preliminary burned severity map. This map and data display categories of unburned/low, moderate, and high. Approximately 65% of the 14,600 acres is either unburned and/or low burn severity, while 27% sustained a moderate burn severity, and 2% identified as high burn severity. 6% of the total burn area is classified as no data in the severity map because the fire continued to grow after the satellite image was acquired.

The low category of soil burn severity indicate that there was only partial consumption of fine fuels and litter coverage still remains, to some extent, on the soil surface. Residence time at the soil surface in low areas was short, leaving root systems and structure intact. Recovery time in the low category will vary based on ecological community but is expected to be relatively short.

A moderate category of soil burn severity indicates consumption of litter and fine fuels at the soil surface. In forested communities, the heat from moderate severity fire will result in water repellant conditions at the mineral soil surface. The canopy in the moderate forested system is browning and it is expected that trees in this area will drop needles and leaves that can provide some litter cover at the soil surface. In these systems, recovery can take longer for tree species to reestablish.

A high soil burn severity category is the result of higher intensity fire behavior or longer residence time at the soil surface. This category is found in forested or dense Woodland communities and the litter and fuels, including an over-story canopy, was consumed. The soil structure is weakened, roots are charred, and water repellant soil conditions persist through the upper horizon of mineral soil. Recovery time in the conifer systems can be significant.

The Vic’ Peak BAER assessment team compared initial remote sensing imagery with burn severity data from recent fires in the San Mateo mountains to develop this map.

The BAER team is projecting increased erosion and runoff within and downstream of the Vic’s Peak Fire area as a result of the fire.  Heavy rains hitting the burn scar on steep hillslopes could result in potential debris flows.

SPECIAL NOTE: Everyone near and downstream from the burned areas should remain alert and stay updated on weather conditions that may result in heavy rains over the burn scars. Flash flooding may occur quickly during heavy rain events-be prepared to take action. Current weather and emergency notifications can be found at the National Weather Service website: www.weather.gov/twc/.

Vic’s Peak Post-Fire BAER Assessment information is available at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6788/

 

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