Public Works

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Post-wildfire safety measures being put in place near 25-Mile Creek

Posted On: November 22, 2021

GIS tech creates emergency incidents map for wildfire response

While the wildland firefighters are now gone, that doesn’t mean work on the Twenty-Five Mile Fire is over.

Burning 22,117 acres near Lake Chelan, the Twenty-Five Mile Fire near Lake Chelan destroyed one building and severely burned soils, trees and vegetation, leaving behind landscapes that resemble a barren moonscape.

Chelan County has been not only evaluating the wildfire damages to public infrastructure but also putting some safeguards in place for potential impacts that may last long into the future.

We now know that wildfires can create problems for a burned area for up to five or even longer. The Twenty-Five Mile fire, which started in mid-August, occurred in an area with steep slopes. Fire increases the potential for debris flows, flashing flooding and rock fall during rainstorms, partly due to the removal of vegetation.

A Burned Area Emergency Response report is an assessment of burned watersheds that identifies  these imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property and critical natural or cultural resources on National Forest System lands. The report recommends actions to implement emergency stabilization measures before the first post-fire damaging events.

Completed in September, the Twenty-Five Mile BAER report shows that 83 percent of the burned area has a moderate or high runoff potential. The report states that 53 percent of the burned area is expected to exceed tolerable soil loss thresholds; inputs to stream channels in the area are likely to be significant.

In addition, models estimate a moderate to high level of debris-flow hazard for most of the area burned by the fire. Both the North Fork and the main Twenty-Five Mile Creek should expect to experience debris flows.

From the reports, Chelan County has concerns for its roads, culverts, bridges and channels in the Twenty-Fire Mile burn area, including in the areas of Shady Pass and Hale roads and portions of upper South Lakeshore Road. Infrastructure may become plugged or overtopped or wash away more easily than under normal pre-fire conditions.

With that in mind, the county has gotten to work, putting some safeguards in place:

Chelan County Public Works crews have installed warning signs near 25-Mile State Park, advising motorists not to drive in standing water on the roadway and to watch for debris or mudslides.

Public Works also has staged sand and sandbags at the 25-Mile State Park overflow lot. People are welcome to the sand and sandbags, but should bring your own shovel, gloves and other essentials for filling up the sandbags.

County commissioners also passed a resolution, declaring an emergency for hazardous tree removal on Shady Pass, Hale and South Lakeshore roads. About 200 dead or dying trees will be removed before the end of the year.

The county also is investigating grant funding options to replace a culvert at 25-Mile State Park with a bridge structure, which would be better suited for any significant debris flows that may come down the creek.

The Chelan County Flood Control Zone District, with the help of the National Weather Service (NWS), is moving a rain gage from the Wenatchee area to Grouse Mountain, or above the 25-Mile drainage. The rain gage will alert the NWS to any alarming rain activity. The NWS in turn will send out warnings to citizens via its alert system. When the rain gage is online, it also will be available to the public on the county’s website.

The Cascadia Conservation District is actively meeting on site with landowners who request assistance or education about post-fire preparedness, including hyro-mulching, sandbag barriers, seeding, hillside drainage and more.

And with Chelan County Emergency Management, Public Works is putting together outreach material for property owners in the 25-Mile Creek area, encouraging them to start thinking of disaster preparedness in case a road is washed out and people are stranded in their properties for a couple of days while responders work to regain access.

Chelan County advises property owners to put their own safeguards in place. Residents should have enough water, food and supplies on hand should a road become washed out. And motorists are reminded to never drive in water that is over the roadway.

For more information, try these resources:

After the Fire

Cascadia Conservation District Wildfire Recovery Resources

After the Flames

Central Washington Fire Recovery

Twenty-Five Mile Fire: Incident Information System

 

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Chelan County Calendar

Upcoming events and schedules at the county!

  • 15
    Dec 2021
    01:00 PM - 03:00 PM

    Hearing Examiner - December 15, 2021

    Posted by: Community Development

    By Zoom Video Conference
  • 15
    Dec 2021
    06:00 PM - 08:00 PM

    Boundary Review Board

    Posted by: Board Of County Commissioners

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    By Zoom video conference
  • 11
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    09:00 AM - 01:00 PM

    December Parenting Class - English Only

    Posted by: Superior Court Clerk

    Supporting Children Through Divorce is a four-hour educational program designed to help parents focus on the needs of their children during and after divorce and separation.

    Washington State University Extension
  • 10
    Dec 2021
    11:00 AM - 01:00 PM

    Coffee with Bob

    Posted by: Board Of County Commissioners

    A quarterly update for the Upper Valley community

    Online via Zoom
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    Posted by: Community Development

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