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Map shows level of severity of fires near McKenzie Bridge

A person in fire protective clothing stands on a burned slope with ash and burned trees.
US Forest Service
BAER Team soil scientists evaluating an area of high burn severity on the Lookout Fire

A team of forestry experts has just finished assessing the areas burned by the Lookout, Horse Creek, and Pothole fires. The trio of lightning caused-fires burned in the Willamette National Forest this summer.

A BAER team, or Burned Area Emergency Response Team goes in immediately after a fire or as suppression is wrapping up, to look for areas that might be at risk of landslides, debris flows or flooding. They assess what needs to be done to protect life, safety and infrastructure.

Despite the size of the fires—the Lookout is the biggest of the three, at more than 25,000 acres—the majority of the acreage is not severely burned.

“Overwhelmingly, like 80% plus of the Lookout, Horse Creek, and Pothole Fires experienced low to moderate burn severity,” said Kassidy Kern, Public Information officer with the U.S. Forest Service.

“So, what that means is that even though you might see red needles on the trees, even though you might see burned vegetation on the ground, you are going to see them rejuvenate,” said Kern.

Kern said the Forest Service uses the maps to plan mitigation strategies for the burned areas. She says the public should be careful when visiting places that were recently burned.

Copyright 2023 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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