With the Slide Fire fully contained, the burned areas of Oak Creek Canyon still pose risks to people and structures. As Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports, officials with the Coconino National Forest have sent in the Burned Area Emergency Response Team to assess the damage.
The team is composed of local hydrologists, soil scientists, engineers and foresters. They are tasked with finding immediate threats in the fire’s burn area. Heather Noel is with the public affairs office of the Coconino National Forest.
“There are trees right now that used to hold rocks in place in the canyon, and those trees had damage, they burned, the roots are still holding those rocks in place, but not for very long. Those roots will degrade and then those rocks will roll down,” Noel said.
Rehabilitation efforts began before the fire was contained. The response team is working now before monsoon season begins when the risk of mudslide increases. The team will first produce a burn-severity map that will show what areas were affected by the fire. It will then recommend actions to counter the threats.