The U.S. Forest Service has stopped and dropped its 'fight all fires' approach for this year, considering the agency spent more than $1 billion battling blazes across the country last year. Last summer's Gilead Fire alone cost a total of $3.3 million.
In 2012, the forest service fought every fire unless it was granted special status. But in years past, the agency had a policy of letting small fires, usually in remote areas, run their natural course. Firefighters say this way, future fires in the same area can be minimized or prevented altogether.
Timothy Inglesbee, executive director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology, says reverting to this policy means flexibility in making decisions taking into consideration the approaching fire season.
Having a policy of fighting all fires is expensive. Inglesbee says it costs millions of dollars to put out every fire sparked by lightning in back-country areas of the nation - the cause of many of our region's fires this past summer. He says those kinds of fires in years past were allowed to burn and that this year, they'll burn once more.
Ultimately, the decision not to "fight all fires" considering the terrain and proximity to civilization was made by Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Tom Tidwell.