Dangers of Forest Fires


By KMVT News

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV )

A fire that starts at a high elevation poses many risks for firefighters.
Often less accessible than a range fire, forest fires can put hand crews in harm's way.

Says Julie Thomas, Public Affairs Officer with the Sawtooth National Forest, "Anywhere where we send firefighters to fight fires on the national forest the problem with that are the hazards in the mountains."

Says Jonathan Palma, fire operations supervisor, "when we go into these steeper terrains we are more heads up. There are more hazards. There are hazards all the time fighting fire but definitely in the steeper terrain there is more we have to look out for."

Adds Thomas, "the problem is when the fire goes through it weakens the trees and they become what we call hazard trees."

The weakened tree roots don't just pose danger for firefighters; they can also tumble over fire lines and cause the fire to grow even further.

Says Thomas, "you have a tree or brush that falls over and crosses the brush and keeps burning on the other side of the fire line."

There are ways firefighters try to maintain their safety while preventing the growth of the fire.

Says Palma, "We use L.C.E.S. a lot, which means look outs, communications, escape routes, and safety zones. We make sure we use that during our firefighting efforts."

Adds Thomas, "We always have two people working together and one person is looking out and watching anything they need to worry about.”

Palma says, "We try to make sure those trees that pose a danger to our fire lines are taken care of.”

But taking care of the problem in advance will only help crews as they battle these types of fires.

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