Sen. Mark Udall asks for USFS review of Black Forest fire

Published: July 23, 2013, 9:56 am, by Ryan Handy

Sen. Mark Udall has asked the U.S. Forest Service to review its use of aircraft during the Black Forest fire to distill lessons learned for future fires along the Front Range.

The air response to the fire, the most destructive in state history, has been touted as a great success by the Senator as well as El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa. In a letter to the forest service, Udall asked for details on how the forest service plans to integrate lessons learned from both the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires into future air response plans.

Udall is particularly interested in the use of military aircraft to fight wildfire.

“I was relieved to see that military aircraft from Fort Carson and the Colorado National Guard were activated early in the Black Forest Fire to drop water and fly spotter missions for ground personnel, and eventually dropped approximately 30,000 gallons of water on the fire. On the ground, the 40 personnel from the Colorado’s National Guard Reaction Force who manned security checkpoints in the Black Forest area demonstrated the type of swift cooperation required in rapidly evolving disaster scenarios.”

Udall also requested information about a potential interagency wildfire plan for the Front Range, which could incorporate  military as well as forest service aircraft.

Last summer, Udall participated in an after action review of the military aircraft response to the Waldo Canyon fire.  Listen to a briefing of that review here.

Click here to read the letter from Udall to the forest service.