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New report details threat of erosion from Holiday Farm Fire

Working together, state and federal agencies recently released a series of reports detailing the threat of erosion left behind by several major wildfire

Posted: Jan 14, 2021 12:09 PM
Updated: Jan 15, 2021 3:11 AM

EUGENE, Ore. – Working together, state and federal agencies recently released a series of reports detailing the threat of erosion left behind by several major wildfires, including the Holiday Farm Fire.

The Erosion Threats Assessment and Reduction Team (ETART), led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state of Oregon, compiled the information in order to support recovery efforts.

A team of scientists and emergency managers identified risks and threats including soil erosion, flooding potential, hazard trees and ecological impacts associated with each fire.

The 53-page summary report for the Holiday Farm Fire details many risks left behind by the 173,000-acre fire.

Bill Burns, a geologist with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, said one threat facing all fire areas is landslides.

“The biggest concern is these landslides start a very long ways away from where they’re going and they can travel very fast,” Burns said. “Sadly, that’s exactly what happened in the Columbia Gorge earlier this week.”

Heavy rain led to landslides across the Columbia River Gorge on Tuesday night. One of those slides is believed to have swept away a 50-year-old woman.

For the Holiday Farm Fire, the report found a very high risk of falling trees along roadways and recreational areas. There’s also high risk of debris flows and landslides near many of the hardest hit areas, like the towns of Blue River and Nimrod.

RELATED: RAINFALL BRINGS CONCERNS OF LANDSLIDES TO HOLIDAY FARM FIRE

While some mitigation efforts have already begun, officials said one of the best tools right now is education.

“Unfortunately, there are no magic bullets to fix the landscape,” said Katherine Rowden with the National Weather Service. “So it really is educational awareness at the individual level; knowing where their house is in relation to these hazards.”

Officials estimate it could be more than a decade before there is a substantial reduction in risk from the effects of the fire.

Summaries and full reports for the Beachie Creek, Archie, Holiday Farm and Riverside can be found here.

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