July 12, 2016

Some Actual Journalism about Wildfire

Hayden Pass Fire, Fremont County, Colo.,
as of July 11, 2016.
Three years ago, after the Royal Gorge Fire, I was complaining that no one ever seemed to assign a cause to some of the big fires in southern Colorado, such as Waldo Canyon (2012) or Black Forest (2013).

Reporters go to the twice-daily fire briefings, they all file the same stories, be they print or electronic or web, and then there is no follow-up.

But here is one exception to that pattern: some actual reportage from the Colorado Springs Independent. The headline, however, is not too promising: "Waldo, Black Forest Fire investigations lurch to a standstill years later."
Four years later, though permits have been issued to rebuild 309 homes from Waldo and 311 from Black Forest, the causes of both fires remain a mystery, and barring a new revelation, they might go unsolved forever.

"I would love to say an arrest is imminent, but I can't say that," said El Paso County Sheriff's Commander Richard Hatch, who oversees the still-active Black Forest Fire investigation.

Colorado Springs Police Sgt. John Koch, a former investigator on the Waldo fire, says investigators are at a stalemate without a tip or new development that would unlock the puzzle.

"We still encourage members of the public with knowledge of suspicious activity to come forward," Koch says.
At least someone was arrested for starting the Cold Springs Fire, still burning west of Boulder. But really, don't we have enough homegrown idiots without having to import them from Alabama?

Further south, our skies are smoky from the still-rolling Hayden Pass Fire, which has passed 12,000 acres in size. (4,900 ha.) Blame lightning for that one. You can't arrest Thor.

I blame the reporters for passivity, but there is more than that. I worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist, but I have also held an institutional public relations job.

Since I got into the emergency-services scene, however, I have been shocked at how these people seem to hate the news media.

When you consider the passivity of most reporters these days, that's sort of like hating springer spaniels.

Hence my moment of glee at seeing an actual follow-up story. Even though it offers no revelations, at least it is a progress report.

3 comments:

Peculiar said...

Meanwhile in New Mexico, the Forest Service sheepishly admitted that the Dog Head Fire, which burned a few homes and was very nearly disastrous, was started by one of their thinning crews with a wood chipper.

Chas Clifton said...

Yes, apparently a masticator grinding its way along caught some chips on fire. Sort of a rock + steel thing, I suppose.

Funny, I was reading this morning that they are using a masticator in the oak brush along with dozers to build line on the Hayden Pass Fire.

Here are some examples of masticators and more about the process as it is supposed to work.

Darrell said...

Bible thumpers my eye. Dollars to donuts they were pot tourists living in the woods.