The Williams Fork Fire was first reported on Aug. 14 at approximately noon and the cause is still under investigation. The origination point was 15 miles southwest of Fraser, Colo. in the Arapaho National Forest. The fire grew in size to 6,122 acres by the end of August 16th, and became a threat to the communities of Fraser and Winter Park.
The fuels consisted of heavy dead and down beetle killed lodgepole pine and during the first week low relativity humidity of around 10 to 30 percent contributed to fire growth and behavior. After the initial three-day fire growth, the peak fire spread occurred on Aug. 20 reached 1,977 acres with a total size of 9,444.
Over the next two months, the daily fire spread was limited to between 1 and 561 acres and the fire reached it’s current size of 14,833 acres on October 27th and was declared controlled after an infrared flight Nov. 30 detected no remaining heat in the fire area.
THREE PHASES OF WILDFIRE RECOVERY
There are three phases of recovery following wildfires on federal lands:
- Fire Suppression Repair is a series of immediate post-fire actions taken to repair damages and minimize potential soil erosion and impacts resulting from fire suppression activities and usually begins before the fire is contained, and before the demobilization of an Incident Management Team. This work repairs the hand and dozer fire lines, roads, trails, staging areas, safety zones, and drop points used during fire suppression efforts.
- Emergency Stabilization-Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) is a rapid assessment of burned watersheds by a BAER team to identify imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property, and critical natural or cultural resources on National Forest System lands and take immediate actions to implement emergency stabilization measures before the first post-fire damaging events. Fires result in loss of vegetation, exposure of soil to erosion, and increased water runoff that may lead to flooding, increased sediment, debris flows, and damage to critical natural and cultural resources. BAER actions such as: mulching, seeding, installation of erosion and water run-off control structures, temporary barriers to protect recovering areas, and installation of warning signs may be implemented. BAER work may also replace safety related facilities; remove safety hazards; prevent permanent loss of habitat for threatened and endangered species; prevent the spread of noxious weeds; and protect critical cultural resources.
- Long-Term Recovery and Restoration utilizes non-emergency actions to improve fire-damaged lands that are unlikely to recover naturally and to repair or replace facilities damaged by the fire that are not critical to life and safety. This phase may include restoring burned habitat, reforestation, other planting or seeding, monitoring fire effects, replacing burned fences, interpreting cultural sites, treating noxious weed infestations, and installing interpretive signs.