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Crews assessing mudslide potential after Francis Fire

(Credit: Paul Nelson, file)

DAVIS COUNTY – Containment around the Francis Fire is expected to go way up as crews are still putting lines around it.  However, fire investigators are also looking into whether or not they may have other problems after the flames are gone… namely mudslides.

By noon Wednesday, crews still estimated the blaze to be roughly 20 percent contained.  Rainfall helped knock large portions of the fire down.

But, what’s going to happen after the fire is out, completely?  Jason Curry with the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands says the Burned Area Emergency Response team has been sent up the mountain to pinpoint where debris could flow down the hills, if it ever does.  Curry says they have reason to feel optimistic.

“We’ve already seen many of these burn areas get pretty heavy rainfall.  It really depends on the severity of the fire and the behavior and the amount of damage it has done,” he says.

The fire had blackened 365 acres by Wednesday, but, Curry says that doesn’t necessarily mean 365 acres of soot will come down during the next storm.

“In a lot of these places, there is still some vegetation holding the soil.  We haven’t really had much of a problem, yet,” he adds.

However, Curry acknowledges this could be due to the ground being extremely dry.

He says, “It’s when we have really heavy rain and ground is saturated [we see problems].  Right now, the ground isn’t really that saturated because we’re coming off of a very dry August and July.”

The BAER team is specifically looking for any immediate areas of potential slides.  Long-term rehab of the ground will be up to Davis County.  If there are any immediate issues, the BAER team will put down temporary debris bars to protect homes.

“Within the first day or two that they arrive and start to assess things, they’ll start to develop a plan, right away,” according to Curry.