The Forest Service made the 100% containment announcement official as of this morning. Note that "contained" is not the same thing as "out." The score so far is holding at one non-life-threatening injury (a tree limb hit a fireman in the chest) and one "structure fire" (power pole).
There are some good and positive lessons in the way this fire was handled and the special attention our tract received. The Haskell tract and the individual cabin owners put down a LOT of money and effort this summer in biofuel removal and dead/dying tree removal (finally & just in time!). As was pointed out in the e-mail below from another Haskell owner, this effort probably got us more positive attention from the Forest Service than the tract might otherwise have received. "IF the firemen see defensible space with fuel reduction around a structure, they will more likely protect that structure..."
Another interesting thing was the communication trails in the age of the Internet. There were four ways for me to actively look at information online (two bulletin boards and two web sites), one news archive (CBS-13), and one very prolific e-mail broadcaster who took on the role of information distributor for the Haskell diaspora. All of those e-ways also posted phone numbers and names of public contact representatives as well as the details of any face-to-face presentations and meetings. As far as I can see, none of the boards were censored, and certainly the e-mail was a tad candid at times.
The result? I only called for information once, to ask if there were any ways for the diaspora to help out immediately. Once satisfied with that answer, I left the phone line open for people who did not have the information access that I did. I did call family and friends with the news as things went along, and then Mom started forwarding out the e-mails to family and I let the phone rest again.
Two important tasks are starting up with the IMT2's arrival on the fire: "Emergency Suppression Rehabilitation" and "Emergency Burn Area Rehabilitation".
Suppression Rehab is where the FS goes in and rehabilitates any of the areas they purposefully disturbed in order to fight the fire - all those dozer trails and even the hand trails need to be recovered with top soils, re-graded so they don't cause run off and soil erosion, trees cut need to be sawn up to degrade faster, materials and equipment recovered. This is a tough and long process requiring lots of people and planning.
Burn Area Rehab is going into the burn area and seeing what needs to be done to mitigate the damage. Soils will be tested for depth of burn (yes, soil can burn, or at least the organics in the soil can burn and make it sterile), saved trees and areas not burned will be mapped, flood control and erosion control in the drainages will be repaired, animals (dead and dying) will be surveyed for biology studies, and seedlings will be planted to start the forest growing again.
This is going to be a long process and with the continuing mop up, removal of equipment and personnel, the forest is going to be busy for a long time. I'm pretty sure that mop up of hot spots will be declared over once it snows or a really good, long rain. I will be getting information as well as other registered contacts about the plans and progress of the fire.
Interesting to note that the beer from Australia must have arrived, cost went to $4.2 M for the weekend. Also interesting that we, Haskell Creek, spent a lot less than that for fuel reduction in our Tract. Did it count? I believe it did as we were singled out for line protection even while the fire was burning towards Carvin Creek Tract. This is food for thought - IF the firemen see defensible space with fuel reduction around a structure, they will more likely protect that structure against others less defensible. It just makes sense - if you've got a big nasty fire coming at you and your job is to protect people and structures, pick the one that will most likely save your own butt too - probably not de jure, but most definitely de facto.