Fires out west. Natural disaster, I don't think so!

CyclistCyclist Posts: 23,346 AG
Barker: Like so many others, Colorado fire is no natural disaster

Published: June 17, 2013



By ROCKY BARKER



It's deja vu all over again - and again - in the American West.



Last year, the Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs destroyed 345 homes. Twelve miles away, the count on Sunday in the Black Forest Fire was nearly 500 homes destroyed and two people dead.



Our first response should be to help the victims of this disaster pick themselves up, bury their dead and go on. We should reach out to help them like we do the victims of tornadoes, hurricanes and floods.



But make no mistake. These are not natural disasters. Our actions led to them, even as the changing climate has made matters worse.




In Idaho, the most destructive fire last year wasn't the Trinity Ridge, the Halstead or the Mustang Complex, which burned hundreds of thousands of acres of mostly backcountry. It was the 1,024-acre Charlotte Fire, which burned 66 homes and 29 outbuildings on the edge of Pocatello.



It's the same place I covered a fire in 1987, and many residents were just as unprepared in 2012 as I found them then.



The Black Forest area in Colorado is described as a Ponderosa pine forest much like the forests around us. Historically, these forests would burn at intervals of about 30 years. But we put those fires out for 100 years, allowing the understory to grow - a contributing factor.



We moved in homes with cedar shake roofs, wood decks and other hazards. Despite 20 years of ever-growing fires, we have not acted to make these homes and communities safe.




This is not an issue in the forest. This is an issue in the communities. We need people to build or remodel homes to be defensible if they live next to wildlands, forest or range. Then we need to make some policy decisions about evacuation. How many people could have saved their homes before the fire slowly burned across their lawns and started on their decks?



How much of this Colorado fire was like the Waldo Fire last year, where most of the homes lost were ignited by other homes?



We spend so much to fight fires to save homes that people and communities don't protect themselves. Then we blame the government for having the forests, which evolved with fire, that the people want to live near.



This story is not new to Idaho Statesman readers. We have been going through this since 1989. The Eighth Street Fire in 1996, the Oregon Trail Fire in 2008, and the Karney Fire last year all heightened our awareness.



The Karney Fire is worth noting because Wilderness Ranch, the community that was threatened, was one of the first in the nation to become what is known as a Firewise Community.



Its homeowners association worked with noted fire scientist Jack Cohen in 2002 on a plan to make individual homes safer. When the Karney Fire struck, there were some tense days, but the community was saved because of that plan.



Cohen has studied the behavior of dozens of fires across the nation since the 1990s, and he sees the same behavior every time. Most homes are ignited by flying embers thrown as far as a mile and a half ahead of a crown fire, or when the ground fire reaches brush and trees within 100 feet of buildings.



The homes themselves burn especially hot, but the trees nearby are often left with their green canopies intact. Look at the aerial photos of the Black Forest Fire and you see this.



Cohen's research has been confirmed time and time again - that fires can be fought within the communities, and that raging fires on public lands don't need to be stopped in the wilderness to protect private property. But when you get hundreds of homes threatened, there just aren't enough firefighters to save them all.



"We have the ability to be compatible with fire," Cohen told me in 2008. "But we mostly choose not to be. Our expectations, desires and perceptions are inconsistent with the natural reality."
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Replies

  • NACl H2O LuvrNACl H2O Luvr Posts: 12,124 AG
    Fire is part of the natural cycle of the western forest, and has been going on for millennia.

    What is unnatural is us trying to stop the fires because we do not want our homes which we built in the middle of or close to the forest to be burnt.

    This leads to a large build up of flammable biomass, and the consequence is large out of control fires.

    It has nothing to do with Climate Change.
  • Mango ManMango Man Posts: 11,075 AG
    Fire is part of the natural cycle of the western forest, and has been going on for millennia.

    What is unnatural is us trying to stop the fires because we do not want our homes which we built in the middle of or close to the forest to be burnt.

    This leads to a large build up of flammable biomass, and the consequence is large out of control fires.

    See Peter, a short and accurate reason.


    America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
    Abraham Lincoln
  • rrbgttrrbgtt Posts: 6,758 Admiral
    We are part of the natural equation, so they are without a doubt, natural disasters.
    From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Ye damned bobcat!
  • Joey ButtonsJoey Buttons Posts: 11,849 AG
    I started a fire once that got out of control.


    No lie.
    FSU is the best football team of all time!
  • rrbgttrrbgtt Posts: 6,758 Admiral
    I started a fire once that got out of control.


    No lie.

    Don't worry, it's natural.
    From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Ye damned bobcat!
  • Joey ButtonsJoey Buttons Posts: 11,849 AG
    rrbgtt wrote: »
    Don't worry, it's natural.


    It happened to you too?
    FSU is the best football team of all time!
  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 23,346 AG
    rrbgtt wrote: »
    We are part of the natural equation, so they are without a doubt, natural disasters.

    So what you are saying is the stupidity of man (placing homes in a fire based ecosystem and not designing or protecting them properly) while disrupting the natural fire regime is a natural thing.

    Well, not this man. You are welcome to perpetuate mankind's stupidity all you want I guess.

    You don't even have homeowners insurance do you?
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  • Cheeky bradCheeky brad Posts: 59 Deckhand
    what about the invasive plants the replace the native grasses after a fire, then are way more prone to fires? homes burn down in wildfires? no chit sherlock..
  • rrbgttrrbgtt Posts: 6,758 Admiral
    Cyclist wrote: »
    So what you are saying is the stupidity of man (placing homes in a fire based ecosystem and not designing or protecting them properly) while disrupting the natural fire regime is a natural thing.

    Well, not this man. You are welcome to perpetuate mankind's stupidity all you want I guess.

    You don't even have homeowners insurance do you?

    I do, because I still owe money on it. 5 more years and I will cancel it.

    I forgot to answer your question. I'm not saying anything about "stupidity". I'm saying when God made the world, he included man in the equation; or if you prefer, man naturally evolved to what we are today and what we do today is also natural.
    From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Ye damned bobcat!
  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 23,346 AG
    rrbgtt wrote: »
    I do, because I still owe money on it. 5 more years and I will cancel it.

    I forgot to answer your question. I'm not saying anything about "stupidity". I'm saying when God made the world, he included man in the equation; or if you prefer, man naturally evolved to what we are today and what we do today is also natural.

    I am talking about stupidity, because that is what is going on. The native Americans burned, but the interlopers don't. And now they look to the Feds to save them from their own stupidity. Nothing natural about that.
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  • Joey ButtonsJoey Buttons Posts: 11,849 AG
    rrbgtt wrote: »
    I do, because I still owe money on it. 5 more years and I will cancel it.

    I forgot to answer your question. I'm not saying anything about "stupidity". I'm saying when God made the world, he included man in the equation; or if you prefer, man naturally evolved to what we are today and what we do today is also natural.



    When I pee in my front yard I feel like an animal in the wild.
    FSU is the best football team of all time!
  • WaterEngineerWaterEngineer Posts: 24,415 AG
    Cyclist wrote: »
    I am talking about stupidity, because that is what is going on. The native Americans burned, but the interlopers don't. And now they look to the Feds to save them from their own stupidity. Nothing natural about that.

    Peter, you are always so fast to point out a problem. Especially when it supports a political position you believe. In this case that would be man made climate change, as stated in your OP. Do you have a link for the Op/Ed in the OP? Thanks.

    Now back to my main point. As I said you quickly point out the problem but not a solution. I once had a boss who said I could come to him with any problem as long as I came with a solution too. Sooooooooo, I turn that on you. Exactly what is the solution you propose to wildfires?

    Besides, what do you care what happens in the big rectangle states? You are on record for saying the west and particularly Boulder CO are just "OK."

    I will be waiting for your answers. TYVM.
  • CalusaCalusa Posts: 11,881 Officer
    I started a fire once that got out of control.


    No lie.

    You're an apex arsonist.
    FS Forum member since January 4, 2003
    Member #12478
    Not a Jew
  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 23,346 AG
    Peter, you are always so fast to point out a problem. Especially when it supports a political position you believe. In this case that would be man made climate change, as stated in your OP. Do you have a link for the Op/Ed in the OP? Thanks.

    Now back to my main point. As I said you quickly point out the problem but not a solution. I once had a boss who said I could come to him with any problem as long as I came with a solution too. Sooooooooo, I turn that on you. Exactly what is the solution you propose to wildfires?

    Besides, what do you care what happens in the big rectangle states? You are on record for saying the west and particularly Boulder CO are just "OK."

    I will be waiting for your answers. TYVM.


    Did you read the article?

    Prescribed fire needs to be mandated in these areas (at homeowners expense). If that includes people yards, so be it.
    Houses appropriate to fire prone areas need to be mandated (and built at homeowners expense).


    I love the west, never said I didn't. I simply said boulder was OK.
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  • navigator2navigator2 Posts: 22,444 AG
    Peter, you are always so fast to point out a problem. Especially when it supports a political position you believe. In this case that would be man made climate change, as stated in your OP. Do you have a link for the Op/Ed in the OP? Thanks.

    Now back to my main point. As I said you quickly point out the problem but not a solution. I once had a boss who said I could come to him with any problem as long as I came with a solution too. Sooooooooo, I turn that on you. Exactly what is the solution you propose to wildfires?

    Besides, what do you care what happens in the big rectangle states? You are on record for saying the west and particularly Boulder CO are just "OK."

    I will be waiting for your answers. TYVM.

    I think what he is trying to say is they don't allow for controlled burns. Some areas in this state need them badly (especially when the drought took the water levels down) but bureacrats stand in the way. As Pete said prescribed burns are good and healthy for the land.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 23,346 AG
    navigator2 wrote: »
    I think what he is trying to say is they don't allow for controlled burns. Some areas in this state need them badly (especially when the drought took the water levels down) but bureacrats stand in the way. As Pete said prescribed burns are good and healthy for the land.

    I don't think it is the bureaucrats as much as prescribed fire out west is difficult, especially when the area is interrupted by homes and homeowners that don't want prescribed fire, don't understand it, and will not pay for it.

    Every American taxpayer pays for the fire fighting out west (which would not be needed if the homeowners took responsibility for their foolishness).


    National wildfire fighting costs have averaged $1.8 billion annually for the past five years, and the 2012 fire season was among the worst on record for many regions and states. If just half of the WUI is developed in the future, annual firefighting costs could explode to between $2.3 and $4.3 billion. By comparison, the Forest Service’s total average annual budget is $5.5 billion. - See more at: http://headwaterseconomics.org/wildfire/fire-research-summary#sthash.FJ9aYaxa.dpuf
    http://headwaterseconomics.org/wildfire/fire-research-summary
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  • WaterEngineerWaterEngineer Posts: 24,415 AG
    Cyclist wrote: »
    Did you read the article?

    Prescribed fire needs to be mandated in these areas (at homeowners expense). If that includes people yards, so be it.
    Houses appropriate to fire prone areas need to be mandated (and built at homeowners expense).

    Peter, I don't need to read the article.

    I lived in CO, WY, MT, SD for 27 years, including areas that burned last year and are currently ablaze, including but not limited to F.C., Tabernash, Parker, Black Forest and Roosevelt Forest/Rist Canyon.

    I know more about wildfires, first hand than you would ever want to know.

    As with almost anything at the interface of humans and the natural world there are no easy answers.

    Prescribed burns? Sure, but I have seem more than a few of those get away from the control agency personnel.

    You do not understand wind until you live out west. Period.

    Furthermore, you don't understand how far into the outback some of those places are until you live in them ans understand the isolation. Driving between Boulder and Jellystone doesn't do it justice. You have to live it.

    Saying you want prescribed burns is one thing but is not a solution and doesn't answer my question. Go ahead, answer my question and tell us your solution.
  • rrbgttrrbgtt Posts: 6,758 Admiral
    Cyclist wrote: »
    I am talking about stupidity, because that is what is going on. The native Americans burned, but the interlopers don't. And now they look to the Feds to save them from their own stupidity. Nothing natural about that.

    Either we evolved to this level of stupidity or God knew it was coming. Either way, it's natural.
    From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Ye damned bobcat!
  • WaterEngineerWaterEngineer Posts: 24,415 AG
    Peter, on a different but related note, I am shocked you are not a devotee of this rag. >>>>>> http://www.hcn.org/

    Some of it is OK, but a lot of it is hyperbolic rant.
  • OnewolfOnewolf Posts: 657 Officer
    Next thing you know people will start questioning whether building on barrier islands is a good idea.... :cool
    *** Tidewater 2100 Yamaha F150 ***
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  • WaterEngineerWaterEngineer Posts: 24,415 AG
    Onewolf wrote: »
    Next thing you know people will start questioning whether building on barrier islands is a good idea.... :cool

    I already discussed that yesterday in my thread on FEMA insurance and flooding.
  • razorreilly09razorreilly09 Posts: 8,401 Officer
    Cyclist wrote: »

    Every American taxpayer pays for the fire fighting out west (which would not be needed if the homeowners took responsibility for their foolishness).

    While I agree with you, since higher taxes ever negatively concern you??
  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 23,346 AG
    Peter, I don't need to read the article.

    I lived in CO, WY, MT, SD for 27 years, including areas that burned last year and are currently ablaze, including but not limited to F.C., Tabernash, Parker, Black Forest and Roosevelt Forest/Rist Canyon.

    I know more about wildfires, first hand than you would ever want to know.

    As with almost anything at the interface of humans and the natural world there are no easy answers.

    Prescribed burns? Sure, but I have seem more than a few of those get away from the control agency personnel.

    You do not understand wind until you live out west. Period.

    Furthermore, you don't understand how far into the outback some of those places are until you live in them ans understand the isolation. Driving between Boulder and Jellystone doesn't do it justice. You have to live it.

    Saying you want prescribed burns is one thing but is not a solution and doesn't answer my question. Go ahead, answer my question and tell us your solution.

    I probably have spent more time on the ground time in remote wilderness areas out west than you have. Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico.

    Prescribed fire is not easy in areas of fire suppression.

    The isolated cabins in the woods are not a major problem. They let them burn. It is the larger subdivisions at the urban/wild and interface. Full of wealthy people who demand fire protection.

    The thing is, the cost of living in these areas is too cheap and the reliance on billions of dollars of Fed money to easy.

    The states allowed the development and they should not have.
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  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 23,346 AG
    Peter, on a different but related note, I am shocked you are not a devotee of this rag. >>>>>> http://www.hcn.org/

    Some of it is OK, but a lot of it is hyperbolic rant.

    I have read a bunch of their articles, not so much when I am back east. They have a pretty clear headed perspective.
    133cbf2b243368b1ddb2f591a1988076--beach-posters-florida-travel.jpg
  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 23,346 AG
    While I agree with you, since when did a tax increase/hike ever negatively concern you??

    Plenty of times. Especially when the money goes to bail out wealthy people who could pay for their own mistakes.
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  • GardawgGardawg Posts: 8,208 Admiral
    concrete homes don't burn

    even the three little piggies knew that
    “Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.

    Heres Tom with the Weather.”
  • loose_cannonloose_cannon Posts: 592 Officer
    Cyclist wrote: »
    Plenty of times. Especially when the money goes to bail out wealthy people who could pay for their own mistakes.


    Sort of like a piece of every insurance policy in Florida subsidizing Citizens, which then insures foolish people who build homes on barrier islands. Or federal flood insurance.
    My solution would be let the insurance markets work, no subsidies. Whether it's fire, flood or wind, rich folks or poor folks, the insurance companies should charge accordingly and compete with each other, not the government.
    Join Date: March 2001
    Member #813
  • razorreilly09razorreilly09 Posts: 8,401 Officer
    Cyclist wrote: »
    Plenty of times. Especially when the money goes to bail out wealthy people who could pay for their own mistakes.

    So, those wealthy people (who pay the more into taxes than the un wealthy) don't deserve any tax funded assistance? Only those who pay little to no taxes and/or actually absorb tax money deserve such assistance??
  • MRichardsonMRichardson Posts: 8,283 Admiral
    If someone doesn't have a solution to the whole cancer problem,
    are they not allowed to point out it's a problem?
    I have never seen live bones, but I know that they are often used by rich people to decorate the interior.
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