LAKEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Colorado's largest wildfire grew so
powerful by its second day that it overwhelmed treated areas that
should have slowed it down, according to the draft report released
High winds, a drought and low moisture in trees fueled the
137,759-acre Hayman fire, according to the report prepared by a
panel studying the blaze.
The blaze roared into most areas previously burned in prescribed
fires or where trees were logged or thinned, methods frequently
used to prevent wildfires.
Still, two earlier wildfires and a prescribed burn within the
last year helped contain part of it, the report states. The fire's
final perimeter lay next to boundaries of areas where the
vegetation had been thinned.
The report is a step in a process to revise policies to prevent
future fires from spreading as the Hayman did. That fire began June
8 about 40 miles southwest of Denver and raced across about 60,000
acres the next day.
"These preliminary results are very useful as we look toward
creating more fire-resistant forests in the long term," said Rep.
Mark Udall, D-Colo., who asked the Forest Service in June to create
the panel that studied the fire.
Scientists are expected to complete the full report by July,
roughly a year after the Hayman fire was contained.
The government, independent and university researchers who
studied the fire offered no guidance on policy.
The fire destroyed 132 homes. But researchers could not say
whether having a metal roof or clearing surrounding brush was what
saved 83 percent of homes in the burn area. Panel member Rick
Stratton said it might have been firefighters' efforts that saved
The panel also found that nonnative plants may threaten burned
areas where native plants were destroyed.
"The panel's work is one more very important set of data and
conclusions that will be useful to homeowners, business and people
who spend time in the red zone," Udall said.
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