Crews Assess Damage After Chariot Fire Burns More Than 7,000 Acres
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Aired 7/11/13 on KPBS News.
Firefighters battling the Chariot Fire in San Diego's back country got a break from the weather Wednesday. Now, crews are scouring the more than 7,000 charred acres to assess the damage.
Fire damage crews recorded the toll at the burned-out Al Bahr Shrine campground in the Laguna Mountains. Cal Fire Battalion Chief Nick Schuler said the big flames that ripped through here are now mostly extinguished.
"Over the past day, we've really had a transition from a very aggressive fire-fight to now a mop-up and recovery phase," he said.
Schular was among those who saw the fire race up the mountain on Saturday.
"As the smoke has dissipated, the attention level of this fire slowly begins to go away," he said. "People don't realize there's still days and days of work left for firefighters, mopping up hot spots."
In some areas, most of the fuel has been burned up. Still, you don't have to look very far to see other fuel is available on hillsides in the area, and that's why it is important to put hot spots out.
Oceanside Fire Department Captain David Overton, echoed this.
"It is an important part of the fire. It's probably not as dramatic, but if we don't do this it can easily start again," he said.
On, Mount Laguna, Overton's crew checked tree stumps and any area where the ash is mostly white.
"We usually check those with a little spray of water to make sure they're not hot and there have been several times if you're not paying attention you can step into that area, drop down to your knee and easily suffer second and third-degree burns," he said.
There have been only five minor injuries since the fire started. More than 2,100 firefighters are involved.