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A new way to fight fires?

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By Jay Miller

SANTA  FE  —  If we don’t improve our firefighting, the Rockies will burn down. Those were the words of retired Los Alamos scientist Chick Keller when interviewed by Capitol Reports.
Keller has a point. We are not utilizing all the resources our nation has to fight wildfires. Almost every year fires in Western states are setting records for most land burned and that will continue until we get smarter.
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) criticized the Forest Service for its handling of the Ruidoso fire that burned over 200 homes. There appeared to be opportunities to stop the fire in its early stages if the right actions had been taken at the right time.
Pearce’s comments came at the height of the fire. Gov. Susana Martinez commended the bravery of the firefighters and said the time for critiques would come later.  And several days later she pled on national TV for 21st century methods of firefighting.
Keller has some suggestions. He says the Air Force can solve many of the problems. It can deploy bigger planes that can fly at night to help map strategy for ground crews to follow early the next morning while the fires still are laid down.
Drones also could play a part. The Air Force would not need anything new, according to Keller. Everything needed could come right off the shelf.


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