Assayii Lake Fire estimated at $7.4 million in damages

By Terry Bowman and Alastair Lee Bitsoi
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, June 26, 2014

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The estimated damage of the 14,712-acre Assayii Lake Fire stands at $7.4 million, according to an executive summary provided by Bea Day, incident commander for the Southwest Area Incident Management Team 3.

During a briefing with her team of firefighters Thursday afternoon at the Navajo Nation Museum, Day and Roy Hall, deputy incident commander, updated their team with the latest information regarding the fire. As of Thursday, the fire was 90 percent contained.

The executive summary also reported 28 structures being destroyed from the fire, which had around 867 fire personnel fighting the blaze. To help contain the fire, 12 aircrafts were also used since June 13.

“Structures can be anywhere from residence to summer camps to outhouses,” said Lori Cook, information officer with the Southwest Area Incident Management Team 3.

The human-caused fire, which began June 13, is still under investigation, according to Cook. The fire information officer added that the Burn Area Emergency Response Team, or BAER, is currently assessing the potential after effects of the fire.

Also on Thursday, Day released control of the Assayii Lake Fire to Leon Ben, incident commander of the Southwest Area Interagency Type 3 Team, at 6 a.m. The interagency team, which is under the auspices of the Navajo Region BIA, is comprised of local, state and federal agencies. This team comprises of about 350 personnel.

Some members of Day's Type 3 Southwest Area Incident Management Team have also stayed behind to assist the interagency fire fighters, until the fire is 100 percent contained.

Even though most of the fire is 90 percent contained as of Thursday, approximately 135 structures still remained threatened.




According to the cost summary, $2.2 million was spent on aircraft. $1.8 million went to support activities, while $1.5 million was expended on crews. Other expenses included indirect and direct costs, equipment, and other equipment.

Regarding the use of water to contain the fire, more than 318,800 gallons was delivered, with 136,370 gallons used.

For the safety of the public, the Navajo Nation Fire Restrictions and Emergency Declaration issued by President Ben Shelly on June 16 still remain in effect.

Fire officials recommend that livestock owners communicate with local grazing officials, chapter officials and the Navajo Department of Agriculture over concerns of livestock in the impacted communities.

As of today, there are seven crews, seven engines and 351 fire personnel fighting the blaze.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/assayiilakefire or call 928-362-1482.

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