July 12, 2005

After the flames I: Fighting back

The big national weather news while the the Mason Fire was burning was actually Hurricane Dennis. I thought at the time that the one good thing about forest fires over hurricanes, in this ecosystem at least, was that the fire cannot repeat itself in the same place right away. Hurricanes can come back next year.

Forest fires can be fought, at least some of the time. In the 1950s, I think there was discussion of fighting hurricanes by exploding atomic bombs in the them, back when some military types were optimistic about meeting every tactical problem with an atomic bomb. No one ever tried it.

Big forest fires usually slow down on their own. The weather changes, or the fire encounters some obstacle. This fire moved rapidly on Sunday, pushed by a dry west wind. On Monday a cold front pushed into the foothills, reversing the wind direction and raising humidity a little. With that change, fire fighters could move in closer, I expect, and try to cut fire lines ahead of the fire.

Pueblo Chieftain: "Firefighters gain upper hand"

I am waiting for the critiques to begin. Should they have brought in ground crews on Thursday, instead of dropping slurry and water only? Did all that aerial attacking really make any difference in where the fire went? It certainly did not stop it from running along the ridge toward our place. I never saw that edge of the fire being "bombed," although I only had a clear view when I walked up the road to see it. Did no one think the fire would move in that direction, or did it just march on despite the fire retardant?

I heard that a lot of slurry and foam was laid down to protect structures at the Hamilton Ranch in Babcock Hole, and that the main house, cabins, stables, etc. all survived because of it. Being on the ground in Babcock Hole would have been a touchy situation, because there is only one narrow gravel road up and out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chas, I've been following your blogging on the fire and am really happy to hear that your home is safe! What presence of mind to blog during the fire, and how well done! The nature of on the spot reporting is really changing.