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New management team takes over Mill Fire, works on repairs

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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – Repairs and assessments are continuing on the area burned this month by the Mill Fire, which scorched nearly 30,000 acres in the Colusa County side of the Mendocino National Forest.

The fire began on Saturday, July 7, near Upper Letts Lake and 10 miles west of Stonyford. It was 100-percent contained on Wednesday.

The costs associated with the fire were updated on Friday to $15,737,359, according to forest officials.

Mendocino National Forest, Type III Organization has officially taken command of the Mill Fire and the fire suppression repair process.

Approximately 254 personnel were assigned to the incident on Friday.
 
Mike Vandame, the team leader for the Burn Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER), and his team, have begun surveying the burn area to assess rehabilitation needs.  

“Even after the last flame has been extinguished on the Mill Fire, potential threats to life, property and natural resources may remain,” he said. “These threats come from winter storms that fall on watersheds stripped of their protective vegetation. So, as suppression efforts wind down, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will begin to assess the potential threats.”  

Vandame further indicated that the response team is currently gathering information on structures, roads, other improvements and resources that are within, nearby or downstream of the burned area.  

“Each will be assessed to determine if post-fire conditions pose a significant threat,” Vandame said. “In cases where a threat exists, the team will determine if there is a practical, cost-effective treatment that can reduce the threat. If so, it may be proposed for funding under the appropriate agency’s emergency response program. Each agency has specific guidelines for what treatments qualify for funding.”  

In addition, reducing some threats may require treatments that come under more than one agency’s authority, according to Vandame.  

The team will try its best to keep affected people informed regarding the guidelines that apply to their situation.

The date will be announced for a public information meeting to be held, at the Stonyford Grange, to provide current information and introduce the primary agency contacts.  

Another purpose will be to gather information from potentially affected people to help with the assessment.

“As each day goes by we have completed more of the work associated with the BAER assessments,” said Incident Commander Kipp Morrill. “There is a lot of fire line out there, but we are making progress while ensuring safety.”  

As the days grow hotter, and the humidity decreases, residents will continue to see smoke within the fire lines, officials said. This is normal after a fire, and crews will be vigilant about response.  

Resource management employees will continue to work on repairs and assessing long-term needs for forest health.  

Public meetings will continue to be held at the Stonyford Grange, as deemed necessary by the team. Announcements will be posted as dates are determined.

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