It's my job out on the fire line
to predict what the fire will do next. I have to factor in weather, terrain, and
the types of materials there are to burn. The new models help a lot, but I also
think about fires I've seen before.
I always keep in mind
the basic fire triangle:
What I really like about my job is to watch nature doing its own thing. Our suppression attempts for the past 100 years have not overcome natural processes. Even if we wanted to stop every fire completely, there are a lot of things we can't control. These include lightning storms; dry, hot weather; and long-term droughts. Even though we can reduce fuel loads by thinning and prescribed burning, we don't have the resources to treat all the acreage that needs it.
A fire with the least
human intervention and the most ecological benefit fire starts by lightning in
early June and roams freely until fall snow puts it out.
suppression has created a lot of what we call "ladder fuels" -- low
branches and small trees that create a ladder for fire to burn from the ground
up into the crown of the tree. Once this happens, it is very difficult to keep
the fire from spreading. Firefighters then have to wait for the weather to change
or until the ladder fuels burn up. The fire will eventually go back on the ground,
making it safer and easier for firefighters to control.
easy to think that the whole tree has to torch to kill it. In fact, trees can
be killed when the flames scorch it badly, even without setting the crown on fire.
If the fire is hot enough on the ground, the roots can be damaged or killed by
fire behavior specialist