Yarnell Hill fire two years later

It's hard to believe two years have past since these 19 men lost their lives. I'll never forget the outpouring of concern I received from people I'd not heard of for years, all remembering I used to fight fire, and wondering how I felt about this loss, and offering sympathy, even though I did not know anyone on this crew.

I tend to agree with Grant McKee, that instead of spending millions putting fires out, agencies should spend more on preventative measures including prescribe burns, thinning, and to some extend, letting fires burn. However, the "let it burn" policy is fraught with complications, because if these fires get out of control, they are more dangerous to extinguish and cost more to contain than if they were controlled early on. With so many homes on the edges of wilderness areas, letting fires burn is a tricky proposition at best.

Above all, if crews are going to fight fires, safety comes first. I remember something my my supervisor said in 1976 during training. "No tree is worth a life."


Over 300 fires burning in Alaska

Fire season is quiet in much of the U.S., but Alaska is making up for what is not happening in the Lower 48. Over 300 wildfires are burning in Alaska, tasking resources, and possibly adding to global climate change.

When I fought fires in the 1970's through early 1980's, officials considered a 50,000 acre fire catastrophic. Alaska's current wildfire situation prove that fire sizes continue to grow in magnitude, with no end in sight.

It will be interesting to follow how agencies will cope with this increase in the number of fires, and overall size. These massive blazes increase the risk to the lives of firefighters. Will firefighting tactics change? One would think they would have to.

More information:

Alaska Wildfires