The Carstens Fire in Mariposa County was reported 95% contained Tuesday, June 25. The cause of the fire was an abandoned, not fully extinguished campfire at the bottom of Plumbar Creek Sunday, June 16, off Carstens Road near Highway 140. The fire had burnt 1,708 acres by Sunday, June 23.
By Tuesday, June 18, there were 2,200 fire personnel on scene. As containment increased, fire personnel decreased and by Sunday, June 23, that number had dropped down to 637.
Even though 800 structures were being threatened at one point, no structures were lost. Evacuation orders were given for a number of areas including Hites Cove, Jerseydale, Clarks Valley, Triangle Road, and Scott Road, forcing 1,900 evacuations. All evacuation orders had been lifted by 4 p.m., Thursday, June 20.
Cooperating agencies included: Cal Fire, U.S. Forest Service, California Highway Patrol, National Park Service, Mariposa County, Mariposa County Fire, and Mariposa County Sheriff.
Extensive mop-up operations and patrol of the fire lines continue. The Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) team has been called to conduct a BAER assessment of the Carstens Fire.
The BAER assessment will evaluate the Carstens Fire area to determine the potential for high erosion, flooding, mud flows and debris flows. The assessment will focus on the values at risk, including life, property and natural resource values that could be at risk when rain occurs.
Alan Gallegos, BAER team leader, conducted a helicopter reconnaissance Saturday, June 22, and identified high burn severity areas throughout the fire area. These areas will be reviewed by the BAER team to determine soil burn severity and values at risk that could be threatened.
The BAER team will start their assessment by evaluating a Burn Area Reflectance Classification (BARC) map, which was constructed from satellite imagery. The BARC map will be evaluated by the BAER team to produce a Soil Burn Severity Map that will show areas of high, moderate, and low burn severity.
Upon completion of the assessment, the BAER team will identify and implement the most effective treatments based on the risk assessments and burned area land management objectives. The BAER team hopes to have their assessment completed by the end of the week.
Assistance for landowners
The Natural Resources Conservation Service is available to assist private landowners with rehabilitating property affected by the fire. Details: (209) 966-3431 or www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov.