28 Sep 2008, 11:31am
Latest Fire News
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Forest Service’s Gap Fire Report Raises Debris Alarms

By Sonia Fernandez, Noozhawk Staff Writer, 09/06/2008 [here]

The U.S. Forest Service has released its Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Assessment, a report describing the impacts of the Gap Fire and what measures the agency intends to take in response.

According to the report, the Gap Fire burned about 9,544 acres, roughly half of which was located on Los Padres National Forest land.

The blaze, which started July 1 and burned the foothills directly above the Goleta Valley, affected several facilities, including the Southern California Edison powerline, a Goleta Water District treatment plant, and the Cachuma Operation and Maintenance Board underground water pipeline and reservoirs. Orchards, roads and a cultural site were also damaged by the fire.

The report labeled the soil burn severity as moderate, but rated the potential for flooding as “high to very high,” and warned of threats to both life and property, particularly in the areas directly downstream of the burned watersheds. Approximately 300,000 cubic yards of sediment is at risk of descending.

“Increased flooding, sedimentation and debris flow probability have the potential to damage 120-plus residences, 70-plus business properties, impact Highway 101 and the railroad, which could result in closure, close the Santa Barbara Airport, cause power outages if debris flows affect the powerline, and affect domestic water supplies through impacts to the water treatment plant and the Cachuma Operation and Maintenance board water pipeline,” said the BAER report.

“These potential serious and long-lasting impacts to downstream values are estimated to be over $23 million.”

The airport, it said, could lose an estimated $1.4 million per closure, and a $10 million wetland restoration project in the Goleta Slough could be destroyed. … [more]

Note: the erosion from the 9,544 acre Gap Fire is dwarfed by the erosion and flash flooding caused by the 240,000 acre Zaca Fire (2007) [here] and the 244,000 acre Basin/Indians Fire (2008) [here], both of which were also on the Los Padres National Forest. Over half a million acres of the LPNF have been incinerated in the last two years.



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