Fire Recovery

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The burnt mountainside in Alpine still shows the damage from July’s wildfires, but there’s a lot more than just dead trees; there’s hope for recovery.

Charred, black, and desolate, that’s what’s left of these once wooded hills. Fires blazed up these hillsides and definitely left their trace, not just on the mountainside, but in the minds of alpine homeowners.

Marianne Longenecker, Alpine homeowner, shared her memories of that day. She said, “I heard sirens and I looked outside and there was like quite a bit of smoke already billowing.”

Her husband Kory said, “The fire department and the police department just came around about two or three hours after it started and just knocked on all the doors and evacuated everybody.”

The hillsides are recovering and there are green plants beginning to grow.

Mayor Hunt Willoughby says the fire service plans to let nature take its course in the regrowth process, “We’d love to see that whole mountainside green today and get something to hold the soil in, but the forest service experts say we’re in good shape and that it would not help to do that.”

The Mayor says the Forest Service believes that the fire didn’t completely destroy the root system of the trees. Reseeding and planting would only put “competing vegetation” for the plants that are already trying to grow.

Regrowth isn’t the only worry; mudslides also concern the city council. Alpine is setting up jersey barricades in case of emergency.

Describing the function of the barricades, Mayor Willoughby says, “They’re basically speed bumps so [the water will]] have to go up and over and hopefully drop debris out and then only the water then continues on.”

The mayor says these barricades should lessen the effects of a mudslide if one should occur.

Council members are also using social media like facebook and twitter to get the word out more quickly in case of emergency. The Mayor calls it a “reverse 911 plan”. He says that they learned a lot during the fires about the need for a better evacuation plan. They hope this social media movement will be the key.

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