Course teaches students how to investigate forest fires
Posted at: 10/04/2012 7:02 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Officials from the Bureau of Land Management, US Fire Service, NM State Forestry and Lincoln County Emergency Services hosted an Interagency Wildland Fire Investigation Course in Ruidoso to educate officials on determining the causes of forest fires.
About 24 students from the USFS, BLM, local and county fire and emergency services, Ruidoso Police Department and Farmington Fire Department learned to analyze clues like the curling of leaves, direction of burned grass, and shapes of burned patches to determine a fire’s point of origin. One reason finding a fire's specific cause and determining how much monetary damage occurred is important is for legal reasons.
"Especially if it goes to court, we have to be able to legally say, this is what started the fire,” Bureau of Land Management official Jennifer Myslivy said. “And based on these indicators and this methodology, we came to find this evidence, and this source."
Evidence from fires can help to find intentional fire-starters – and to reveal unintentional mistakes, as well.
"It helps us to educate the public - if it's something like throwing cigarettes out or mechanical problems, vehicles, ATV- they might not be attuned to that,” Lincoln National Forest official Beth Mitchell said. “It could help stop fires from spreading down the road."