Bear Trap fire winds down, officials conduct debriefing

A flagger stops traffic on Highway 84 near Warm Springs Recreation Area as firefighters continued to battle the Beartrap 2 fire last Thursday evening. Ben Coulter / The Madisonian.

As crews continued to mop up remaining hot spots from the Bear Trap 2 Fire on Monday, command of the incident transitioned from the Type 2 Incident Management Team lead by Stan Benes back to local authorities.

The incident information website www.inciweb.org listed 30 total personnel still working on the fire as of Monday. Madison District Ranger Ken Harris said most of the repair work from the fire had been completed, and Monday’s activities primarily consisted on keeping an eye on the area to make sure nothing flared up again.

“It’s mostly a patrol now to make sure everything stays where it belongs, because there are still some smokes interior,” Harris said.

According to inciweb.org, the 15,000-plus acre fire is 100 percent contained, and Harris confirmed that one residence and two out buildings were destroyed near the Warm Springs Recreation Area. On Monday Harris participated in a transitional meeting with operations and logistics personnel from the different agencies involved in fighting the fire. The purpose of the meeting was to review the history of the fire and discuss what aspects of controlling it went well and what could have gone better. Harris explained a large part of the meeting was about how things might run more efficiently as the agencies move forward from here.

“Every time you can learn things so you can be better in the future,” he explained.

One area for improvement that was mentioned during the meeting is communication, and Harris emphasized how important it is for different agencies to pass along information to each other in a timely manner.

“It’s always communications,” he said. “And it isn’t just this fire, it’s all fires.”

It’s easy to see how communication could become an issue with a serious incident like the Bear Trap 2 Fire, with different agencies taking command and hundreds of personnel involved. But Harris said it’s usually a smooth transition, with everyone involved making sure that there are no more surprises from the wildfire.

“The operational folks that have been on the ground meet out there with the incoming incident commanders so that they can give the ins and outs of what’s going on,” he said.

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