Oops. Is it the official’s duty to protect or hurt people? The U.S. Forest Services got their job backwards when they fanned the flames instead of extinguishing them.
The U.S. Forest Services hit a shameful record when they caused the largest wildfire in New Mexico. The wildfire demolished 330 homes and cost the government $132 million in damage. Thousands of people were displaced from their homes, and more than 300,000 acres of land have been burned to the ground. This catastrophe was the aftermath of a planned “controlled-burn” fire started by the U.S. Forest Service.
Clearly, things did not go according to plan. The forest services will now hold off on any more planned fires and review their protocols meticulously to avoid further damage.
The U.S. Forest Services relies on improbable statistics to defend its competency. Randy Moore, chief of the Forest Service, said: “The Forest Service oversees an average of 4,500 prescribed fires each year and in 99.84% of cases, prescribed fires go as planned.” Unfortunately, this scenario fell in the 0.16% probability and since this isn’t the lottery, they can’t be happy about striking rich on this unlikely event.
Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico Governor, said: “It is evident the federal government must take a hard look at their fire management practices and make sure they account for a rapidly changing climate. New Mexico and the West must take every precaution to prevent fires of this magnitude from occurring, especially as precipitation levels continue to decrease and temperatures rise.”
Matthew Hurteau, a fire ecologist at the University of New Mexico, believes that the solution to mitigating these wildfires is not to stop the planned fires. He argues that eliminating prescribed burns would have adverse results and increase the risk of having more wildfires. Planned fires are usually effective in minimizing the amount of vegetation in high-risk areas.
Hurteau said: “It’s a challenging place to be, it’s a complicated situation that’s going to require more safety checks going forward to deal with some of the lack of information that we have and that we in the scientific community are trying to acquire quickly so we can provide it to forest managers.”
U.S. Forest Services are looping back to the drawing board for further examination before putting more people at risk by trying to save them in the long run.