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Six months after Bear Creek Fire mitigation success evident

Bear Creek Fire burn area regrowth
Posted at 8:55 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 23:42:52-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — There are wildfires burning in the west and in parts of Colorado. It prompts renewed calls for wildland mitigation in high-risk wildfire areas.

The aftermath of the Bear Creek Fire on the westside of Colorado Springs offers a case study. There had been extensive mitigation prior to the wildfire.

"What these events do is validate for us the importance of mitigation," said Colorado Springs Fire Marshal, Brett Lacey. The Bear Creek Fire burned just six months ago and regrowth is happening rapidly.

A closer look amid all the green of the recovery shows how mitigation helped reduce danger and destruction during the fire. There is space between the lowest branches of trees and the ground. It is where crews cleared undergrowth and trimmed branches.

"That allows the fire to burn in the grasses and the low fuel underneath and while the heat will get up and you can see the needle kill on those low branches the tree is going to be fine," said Lacey.

Six months after the wildfire, tree trunks are still black from flames, but the tops of trees are showing a lot of green needles

The fire started on Nov. 19 and has burned about 26 acres near Bear Creek Park and the surrounding neighborhoods of Electra Drive. CSPD says there were no injuries or reported property loss.

A day after the fire started it was declared 100% contained. Investigators have protected the area where they believe the fire started while they try and figure out what started the fire. They have not said if the fire was accidental or not.

Because of mitigation, the Bear Creek Fire burned with less intensity. Flames lower to the ground allowed firefighters to confront the fire more aggressively and protect nearby homes. It is also better for recovery and regrowth. Black ash from six months ago is now covered with a thick layer of green vegetation.