Santiago fire report makes several recommendations

Santiago fire report makes several recommendations

20 November 2007

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California, USA — People, property, water quality, wildlife and infrastructure once threatened by the flames of the Santiago fire are now at risk of floods and landslides caused by rain, according to a Burned Area Emergency Response report released by the state today.

All areas near the 28,464-acre burned area are at risk, but the risk is the greatest in Modjeska, Williams and the upper reaches of Silverado Canyon, according to the report.

Some of the recommendations to mitigate the effects of the fire include these:

•Road drainage systems should be inspected

•Evacuation routes should be established and cleared of dangerous vegetation

•Public open space should be closed for up two years.

•An early warning system should be established in case of possible flooding.

The report, by a team of state and county agencies, comes 12 days after the Santiago fire, which authorities believe was intentionally set along Santiago Road Oct. 21, was contained by firefighters. About 50 firefighters from the US Forest Service continue to monitor 24 hours a day, said Jay Bertek, incident commander with the Forest Service.

Firefighters have not found a hot spot in two days, but with high Santa Ana winds and low humidity levels expected Wednesday, fire officials are waiting to declare the fire completely under control, Bertek said.

Federal and state officials began their inspection of the Santiago fire Nov. 1, days before the fire was completely contained. A federal team was assigned to investigate and make recommendations on the burned areas in the Cleveland National Forest, while an interagency team of state agencies examined the burned area outside the forest.

The teams were composed of experts in water flow, soil, geology, botany, engineering, archeology and computer mapping.

According to the report, the worst damage occurred in the upper portions of Santiago Canyon, Bear Trap Canyon, Harding Canyon, Williams Canyon, Arroyo Trabuco, Pine Canyon and Halfway Canyon.

In these areas, hydrophobic soil is believed to have developed. It is dirt that has become mostly repellant to water because a waxy material released by burned brush covers the land and prevents water from penetrating, making it unstable and dry.

Because of this, residents in the area are susceptible to flooding and debris flow, depending on how much rain falls.

Here is a complete copy of the report.

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