Sadly, we get the same results as we’ve gotten in the past. When you “preserve” wildfires for weeks, the winds eventually come up and fires can (and will) escape. Now, all sorts of scarce resources will be tied up for an unknown amount of time, impacting other current and future wildfires, during an intense heatwave. How many Forest Service recreation opportunities will be closed up, due to wildfire concerns? How long will these wildfires continue to impact humans living close by? How many tens of millions of dollars will be wasted on these “resource benefits” touted by fans of “free range” wildfire? How many fuels reduction projects will have to be delayed, because fire suppression has “stolen” their funds? These questions need answers but, no one wants to answer them. “Unforeseen weather conditions” is an unacceptable answer for losing containment. Mountains and winds always go together!
From the Evergreen Magazine’s Facebook page:
The South Fork Fire: A firefighters perspective…
This was sent to us by a firefighter friend of ours. Lack of management in the forest is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, taking lives and homes, decimating the land, wasting timber, and natural resources as well as dumping large amounts of CO2 and carcinogens into the atmosphere.
“The following message was forwarded by one of my Smokejumper Bro’s. For many years he was a lead plane pilot and has seen a lot from the air.
The temperature at 7500 ft in Los Alamos today reached 94 deg F. The winds were light however we can no longer see Santa Fe and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains because of the smoke from the Jarosa fire. Unfortunately this will drive the fire further into the Pecos Wilderness and no suppression will take place until ti crosses the wilderness boundary.
The Silver Fire is now listed at 85,000 acres with 10% containment according to the news reports.”
Subject: Feds, Fires, Frustration — CO (Lengthy)
“With the understanding that I’ve been wrong before, that I don’t have access to a lot of information and that I might be wrong again, here’s my opinion:
The forest is in bad shape due to drought and the beetle infestation. There’s a LOT of standing dead timber and associated brush. In short, it’s a disaster waiting for the proper time to happen and it needs to be carefully watched by people with serious understanding of the potential problems. The right people weren’t in position and the supervision never took place.
2. What happened
A frontal system brought thunderstorms through the area about 5/6 June with a little rain and a lot of lightning. At least 3 fires started from lightning strikes in this area. The Forest Service (hereinafter ‘Feds’) knew these fires were active and, thinking that they could burn out the dead timber and not have to worry about it later, let them grow for 10-12 days without intervention — until they blew up, completely out of control. Then they began trying to play catch-up…in small and ineffective advances.
Apparently, the Feds, hand in hand with the Greenies — who seem to believe that Walt Disney was a wildlife biologist and get their expertise about the outdoors by watching reruns of Bambi — are/have been firmly of the opinion that no one should harvest any of this standing dead wood…because that wouldn’t be ‘natural’. (The beetle-killed timber actually is useful for paneling, furniture and a number of other purposes but the Greenies are terrified that anyone going in to get it will make those terrible trails and roads into the forest that ruin its ‘wildness’.) So, a time-bomb was allowed to develop. And it finally detonated.
75,000+ acres of wilderness are reduced to burned wasteland (and a lot more will go up in flames in the coming days), the communities of South Fork, Masonic Park, Creede and others have been put at extreme risk and the entire National Forest in this region may have to be closed to public use for the rest of this year… or at least until the snow flies and kills the hot spots. (South Fork would have been lost had not a MUCH higher power — Thank You, God! — apparently stepped in and redirected the winds. The fire was headed directly toward town when the winds changed abruptly and drove the fires past it. Other locales may or may not be as fortunate.
IMO this debacle could have been avoided if the Feds had spent more time recognizing reality instead of fantasizing about ‘Nature’s intentions’.
A lone guy in a Super Cub could probably have overflown these fires early in their development, poured half a thermos of coffee out the pilot’s window and flown home with the problem solved.
Instead, the bureaucrats sat on their thumbs and let everything get out of control.
(A friend of mine has a saying: “Kill the monsters while they’re small.” The Feds don’t seem to subscribe to that thinking. )
Right now, the Feds are in full CYA mode, claiming that this fire is very ‘complex’, that it was impossible to forecast this sort of development and that the weather was a factor that was unforeseeable.
Well, it wasn’t nearly so complex before they allowed it to grow beyond control. If they’d actually gotten out of the office and walked through the woods from time to time, they would have seen the huge amounts of dead wood and brush that’s fueling it. And, if they knew how to read weather charts — or had asked someone from the weather service (another federal agency) to read the charts for them — they wouldn’t have been so surprised by that little shocker.
I understand that hindsight is always 20/20 but the locals were already asking why the Feds were sitting on this a week or more before it blew up. Seems to me that our expert forestry folks might have at least listened a little bit.
So, a lot of people are out of their homes. Some may lose them. The local law enforcement and fire organizations (who have been doing truly heroic work) are spread thin and overtaxed. And a lot of businesses are in dire financial straits just at the start of the summer season. And it can all be laid at the feet of the Feds, most of whom will probably be promoted for their ‘selfless’ efforts in fighting this disaster…that they created.
I guess that incompetence flows from the leadership. Lord knows we’re dealing with really entrenched (politicians) at every level of Federal gubmint.”