Crews assessing fire damage at Mt. Charleston - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Crews assessing fire damage at Mt. Charleston

Crews are working to determine the severity of soil damage on Mt. Charleston following the Carpenter 1 fire. (Azenith Smith/FOX5) Crews are working to determine the severity of soil damage on Mt. Charleston following the Carpenter 1 fire. (Azenith Smith/FOX5)
MT. CHARLESON (FOX5) -

Now that the Carpenter 1 fire on Mount Charleston is all but out, the damage is being examined.

One of the areas badly burned is Cathedral Rock in Kyle Canyon. FOX5 on Wednesday toured the area.

At first glance, Cathedral Rock appears green and full of life. The damage becomes apparent upon closer inspection, above the picnic area. The charred areas increase the likelihood of flash floods.

"You can see this in this landscape trees got burned, there is a lot of exposed soil, there's rock and black ash," said soil scientist Brad Rust.

Rust and his associate, Brian Anderson, are members of the Burned Area Emergency Response Team. Their job is to examine and treat burned land. Rust said that a fire as intense as Carpenter 1 could penetrate the soil several inches down.

"What it does is burn the top of the soil, and it burns the organic matter, destroys the structure. It could also leave a water repellent layer," Rust said.

What that means is the mountain is at increased risk for dangerous flash floods.

"The water, when it becomes streamflow, is in a larger volume because it's not being stored in the soil or in the vegetation," Anderson said.

The two have been running tests to determine how deeply the soil was burned.

At this point it appears sections of the mountain received moderate burns, meaning some erosion could occur in the event of heavy rain. However, the land will likely heal itself.

"In this site, I'd let nature take its course because it's got all the roots and everything is right here, ready to go," Anderson said.

The Burned Emergency Response Team is assembling a report containing recommendations for the burned land to be released in the near future.

Copyright 2013 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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