U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce upset over Little Bear Fire response
Posted at: 06/15/2012 10:40 PM
| Updated at: 06/16/2012 2:04 PM
By: Mike Daniels, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Many Lincoln County residents affected by the Little Bear Fire question if more homes could have been saved if bureaucratic red tape hadn’t kept firefighters at bay.
A lot of homeowners are furious and so is U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce.
During a phone interview on Friday, Pearce said he supports the firefighters 100 percent.
He points fingers at the big wigs in D.C.
He believes the fire service should have done more, sooner, when the fire first flared up.
"My question early on, and still my question, the bureaucracy, their decision making, they need to change the policy," says Pearce.
His beef has never been with the fire fighters actually battling the fire, “Their work is heroic," said Pearce.
Pearce wants the U.S. Forest Service to mobilize local crews more quickly and actually protect homes, instead of being told it’s dangerous and to just let them burn.
He said he was instructed to not protect homes if it caught on fire, and instead move on to other homes.
"We might have broke the policy but we saved the man’s house," said VanWinkle.
VanWinkle said in the end his crew saved between 50 and 70 homes.
"Repeatedly we come up against the same things, we wind up with smaller fires that become bigger fires, I know our firefighters can solve the problem," says Pearce.
Pearce's office will have open hours at the Ruidoso Fire Station No. 2.
The station is on White Mountain Drive east of Mechem in Ruidoso.
His staff will be there from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday to hear concerns from residents.
They'll also be able to help with certain needs pertaining to the fire.
Pearce plans to meet with U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell when he gets back to Washington.