Colorado Wildfire Opportunity to Learn

The most destructive wildfire in Colorado history will teach some lessons as a review of mitigation efforts gets underway.

BOULDER, Colo. — Fire management officials and homeowners living in the heavily wooded, steep mountainsides, draws and canyons west of Boulder had planned for years for the fire that swept through the area on Labor Day.
They spent thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars cutting down trees, trimming branches and clearing brush and pine needles from the forest floor to remove fuel for such a fire.
Forest managers say those fire mitigation efforts worked, by some measures. There were no reported serious injuries or deaths from the 3,500 people who were evacuated or firefighters battling the blaze.

Though 166 homes were destroyed, making it the most destructive fire in Colorado history, there were more than 500 homes within the 6,200 acre footprint of the fire — nearly 10 square miles — that survived, according to figures compiled by Laura McConnell, a firefighter with the Boulder Mountain Fire Protection District.
That’s little consolation though, for people who lost their property.
“I’m questioning the whole mitigation thing,” said Laurent Nicault as he and his family removed belongings from their fire-damaged home. A garage, apartment and a car on his property laid in charred ruins. He had removed several trees and taken other measures to prevent exactly that type of loss.
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a resident of Boulder County and a long time supporter of mitigation efforts, has called for a review into whether those efforts were effective, as well as whether firefighters had enough air support and other resources.

(rest of the story: The Associated Press)

(cross-posted from All-Hazard Blog)


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