Fuel Treatments : Both/And not Either/Or :The Waldo Canyon Experience
It’s interesting that some have portrayed treating 100 feet from homes “all that’s needed” to protect homes from fires. Some have even claimed that “the science” supports that, hence fuel treatments further than 100 feet are unnecessary. Clearly either “the science” people selected to promote their views is not complete (did not address the right question, or from the right disciplinary perspectives to be predictive in this case), or not reflective of conditions in nature. If different things work (as seems to be lived experience) at different times, in different situations, why not use all the tools in the toolbox?
Here’s the link:
Below is the excerpt:
COLORADO SPRINGS — For a decade, the Colorado Springs Fire Department has worked aggressively to protect more than 36,000 vulnerable homes from wildfire in the foothills of Pikes Peak.
When the fire everyone feared roared into the city last month, those efforts failed to save nearly 350 houses in one neighborhood — but succeeded spectacularly in another.
In Cedar Heights, a hillside neighborhood that the fire approached from three directions, many homes were rated as “extreme” risks in a wildfire, the worst possible rating. Yet not one house burned, thanks to a forest-thinning mitigation project that stopped the fire a half-mile away.
“We had one community that was threatened … and didn’t lose
anything,” Fire Marshal Brett Lacey said, “and then we had one that in one afternoon got creamed.”
In the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, 71 of the houses destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire were rated “high” or “very high” fire risks by the city fire marshal’s office.
Most had been built in dangerous terrain and had little defensible space around them. At least 20 also had wood roofs or siding, which posed a huge problem because the shingles flew off and spread fire to other houses.
But the fire marshal’s house-by-house risk map also shows many Mountain Shadows homeowners were just unlucky. More than 270 houses rated as moderate risks were destroyed when the Waldo Canyon fire roared down a ridge, incinerating entire streets.
The victims included Dick and Francine Hansen, who had led neighborhood efforts to reduce wildfire risks in Mountain Shadows and labored to make their own home more defensible.
The fire left nothing but the brick archway entrance to their house standing.
“When a fireball came downhill at 65 miles an hour, blew open the garage doors, engulfed the house and burned it down in seven or eight minutes — they said there wasn’t a thing we could have done to save it,” Dick Hansen said.