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Federal fire study sought



Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall last week asked U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to conduct a "scientific review" of the Waldo Canyon Fire, the High Park Fire near Fort Collins, and other wildland fires in Colorado this season.

The review would cover what treatments were used to stop or slow the fire; the role (if any) of "community wildfire protection plans" in fire management and losses; projected fire-related costs over time; the effectiveness of post-fire stabilization and restoration approaches; and much more.

"We must examine the factors that led to the level of intensity and damage, and learn what we can do to reduce future risks," Udall and Bennet say in the letter.

The letter was dated Oct. 11, three days after the Independent wrote to both senators asking whether the Waldo fire would be studied as thoroughly as the 2002 Hayman Fire, which claimed more than 137,000 acres. That study led to a 396-page report issued in 2003 by the Agriculture Department's Rocky Mountain Research Station. The Waldo fire burned more than 18,000 acres and killed two people in the Mountain Shadows area, where nearly 350 homes were destroyed.

Udall already conducted an after-action review at Peterson Air Force Base in August to evaluate how federal and military forces interacted during the local fire event.

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