Here’s an article worth reading..below is an excerpt:
Although it has been raging for a month, the wildfires known as the West Fork Complex in southwest Colorado present a seemingly odd profile of success: They remain only 20 percent contained, yet no significant structures have burned, residents have returned to the once-threatened town of South Fork and firefighters have reported only two minor injuries.
“Containment is not how you measure progress,” said Bobby Kitchens, fire information officer with the Type 1 Incident Management Team. “One day, this will be contained and be out. But now, we’re not concentrating on putting a perimeter around it. We’re just protecting certain points. We don’t have all the dots tied together. Eventually, we will.”
West Fork Complex differs significantly from the way firefighters attacked the flames that ravaged the Black Forest north of Colorado Springs — or any number of other wildland fires, for that matter.
Proximity of valuable resources, such as homes or infrastructure, as well as concerns such as terrain, weather and safety all figure into the methods employed by firefighters in any given situation.
As the dry, beetle-kill pine blew up in the West Fork fires, which have charred more than 110,000 acres, firefighters used helicopters and air tankers to divert the fire from valuable resources and dug a “dozer line” to defend the town of South Fork. In the Rio Grande National Forest, where rugged terrain presents dangerous conditions for ground crews, firefighters have battled the flames judiciously, on their own terms.
“As it goes through dead spruce stands, we’re not going in there,” Kitchens said. “Success is hard to get, and it’s too unsafe for firefighters. We’ll allow it to burn through those stands and catch it when it comes out the other side, at a highway or river. The fire will be controlled. We’re just being different in the way we approach it.”
Aerial photos sketched a puzzling portrait of the Black Forest wildfire, with splotches of charred blackness bleeding across the landscape and giving way, in some areas, to incongruous bands of green.
Amid vast expanses of scorched timber, tragic anomalies: homes reduced to ash still surrounded by healthy trees, speaking to the whims of an inferno whipped by winds and fed by the area’s bone-dry ponderosa pine and gamble oak.
This answers Greg’s question here about the houses burned with green trees around.
Also it appears that fire retardant is being used both by the Black Forest folks (not fed) and the West Fork Complex. You may remember our previous discussions and the quote by Andy discussed here that implied only feds use retardant.
There is a great slideshow here of many aspects of the fire, in at least one you can see retardant use.
Which reminds me of this effort to get more firefighting plane resources being discussed by the Western Governors.