LIST OF LOOKOUTS
Application for NHLR
Forest Fire Lookout
AMERICAN RESOURCES, Inc., doing business
as the American Resources Group®
Maple Ave. E., Ste. 310,
Vienna, VA 22180
Phone: 703-255-2700 ♦ Fax:
Wildfire Interface Terrorism
What can You Do as a Landowner?
Wildfires have always been a part of the American forest. Some exceptions,
especially dry pine and chaparral woodlands, burn more often than others.
With the arrival of effective Federal and state forest fire control programs
80 years ago--largely in response to unnatural man-caused burning--fire was
effectively removed, or more accurately, delayed from its normal cycles. As
a result, forests that were periodically thinned with natural fires have
continued to grow. Ind addition to larger trees, they also have dense and
very burnable understores of breech and young trees. Now, insect and disease
epidemics have killed millions of acres of trees. Today they are tinder dry
and ready to burn with ferocious intensity. Sometimes the fires are so hot
they kill soil microorganisms.
Add homes and forest subdividsions to increasingly fuel-laden forest and we
have the Wild-Urban Interface (WUI). Urban and suburban sprawl, spurred by
better roads, more flexible workplace rules, and a rising economy, has
occurred at an unprecedented rate. Wildland firefighters now have to
consider high value homes and structure when planning their fire control
Woodland owners have watched in dismay as fire fighters, paid partly with
their forestland fire patrol tax assessments, have concentrated on
protecting homes while letting woodland burn. Federal fire fighting guides
now list priorities: (1) saving lives, (2) saving structures, and, last, (3)
Only one state--Oregon--has placed woodlands in the number two spot (where
NWOA believes they should be) with structures as the number three priority.
Domestic terrorism is now a major concern in the United States. Federal and
state agencies are working together to counter the risk to human life and
While great progress has been made, the risk of terrorism by wildfire is
seriously understated, in NWOA's opinion.
A case in point is the 14 wildfires that comprised the Southern California
fire siege of October, 2003. Driven by Santa Ana winds, 750,043 acres were
burned and 24 people lost their lives over a two-week period. Some 3,700
homes were destroyed and the damage to watersheds and natural habitats is
largely unmeasured. Most of the damage occurred in just five days.
The Southern California example apparently resulted from just 12 fire
ignitions, some of them intentional. One can only imagine what would have
happened had a team of terrorists waited until the wind conditions were
severe, and then placed incendiary materials such as road flares in
strategic locatioins where dense fuels and steep slopes presented attractive
What can we do to prepare for a wildfire terrorist attack and minimize loss
of life and property?
1. Plan and locate new homes and developments carefully considering road
access, topography and forest cover types (for flamability).
2. Give more attention to early detection of wildfires by reactivation of
fire lookouts closed in recent years. The smaller the fire when first
reported, the better. This is especially important in suburban areas with
fast burning fuels. If funding is not available to restore these services,
volunteers from homeowner and landowner groups as well as the Forest Fire
Lookout Association are often available.
3. Continue training and expansion of rural volunteer fire departments,
especially in areas with history of fire starts and rapid burning.
4. Homeowners can implement firewise projects of clearing flammable
materials from structures and utilize flame resistant materials.
5. Forest landowners can implement similar firewise programs with creation
of firebreaks and fuel reduction projects within their woodlands.
Corrections or Additions? Contact