Residents impacted by June’s Dog Head fire got a step-by-step introduction last week to a new website devoted to post-fire information.
The Dog Head fire burned 17, 912 acres and destroyed 12 homes, according to John Helmich, community education outreach coordinator for the East Mountain Interagency Fire Protection Association, or EMIFPA.
The website, titled “After Wildfire,”—which is an in-depth online version of a booklet of the same name—was introduced at EMIFPA’s most recent meeting last Thursday at Tijeras Library.
Eliza Kretzmann, a forest health specialist with New Mexico State Forestry, a division of the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department, projected the After Wildfire website onto a large screen and walked the audience through it page by page.
Kretzmann displayed the various sections of the website that included what is at risk after a fire, mobilizing communities, programs and services that can provide assistance, post-fire flood concerns, and financial tips.
“We want to update the community on the post-fire activities that are happening now and show them this comprehensive online guide,” Kretzmann said, adding, “Many of them already have the [After Wildfire] booklet but I feel that a lot of them are overwhelmed so I want to keep giving them this information so hopefully they’ll have both resources when they’re ready to engage with that information.”
After Kretzmann’s presentation some members of the small audience asked questions about recovery efforts and flooding concerns.
Though a few concrete answers were provided—such as debris removal or free sandbags being available to residents at Fire Station 41—there were a few questions that neither Kretzmann nor Helmich could answer. Those questions included the status of funding from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and why the the forest on the western slope is neatly thinned but not the eastern slope.
Kretzmann acknowledged that the website may not have all the answers but said it’s “a good starting place.”
“Some of the after-fire issues are tough to answer but we’re trying to get as much information as we can out there,” Helmich said.
Only about 15 residents from the fire-affected area showed up for the meeting but Kretzmann said, “I’m happy if one landowner shows up because I’m willing to work with anyone who wants this information, I’m happy to meet with groups large and small.”
To learn more, visit the website at afterwildfirenm.org.