Horse News

Colorado Fires: NPR Reporter Fails Basic Fire Chemistry

by William E. Simpson II

‘Fuel, Fire and Wild Horses’ a film by: Micah Robin

Jonathan Franklin began a report with this:

“More than 30,000 residents across three communities outside Denver were forced to evacuate Thursday afternoon after wildfires fueled by strong winds and downed power lines rapidly grew across the area. Authorities say hundreds of homes and buildings have burned.”

However, NPR’s reporter has it wrong. Mr. Franklin clearly doesn’t understand the chemistry of combustion.

The line in the first paragraph of Franklin’s report, wildfires fueled by strong winds and downed power lines“, is scientifically incorrect.

“>Wind does not ‘fuel’ wildfire. Fuels like grass and brush do ‘fuel’ wildfire.

Wind is merely supplying the second ingredient needed for combustion, oxygen.

And ‘power lines’ are merely a source of ignition for grass and brush fuels. As such, ‘downed power lines’ do not ‘fuel’ wildfire.

So the reality of these devastating wildfires is this; the prodigious un-managed grass and brush fuels present on the landscape in Boulder County Colorado were prime to burn.

And with the addition of a source of ignition (downed power lines) and an abundant supply of oxygen via the wind, the inferno was made ferocious.

So many people today have little, to no understanding of the science that relates to wildfires, which is part of the reason why we are having so much trouble preventing them!

And readers are poorly informed and not benefited when the actual contributing causes of catastrophic wildfire are misrepresented.

And as we clearly see, even in the cold dead of winter, prodigious grass and brush fuels that are not properly managed via large-bodied herbivores, such as wild horses, can pose a very real and deadly risk!

The proper density of large-bodied herbivores, such as wild horses in many appropriate areas that are carrying excessive flashy grass and brush fuels, will symbiotically graze and reduce these key wildfire fuels, and thereby reduce both the frequency and intensity of these kinds of wildfires.

Clearly, wild horses are not suited to all areas for fuels reduction. In urban areas, goats make real sense. But in the appropriate designated wilderness areas, wild horses are both economically and ecologically appropriate for wildfire fuels reduction and ongoing maintenance.

Without the presence of excessive grass and brush fuels, the wind could blow 200-miles-per hour, with downed high-voltage power lines, and there would be no fire.

As we also saw in the recent Talent and Phoenix Oregon grass and brush fire that destroyed 800 homes, alleged arson was the source of ignition for the excessive grass and brush that lay waiting for any source of ignition.

Sources of ignition, whether cigarettes, chains dragging from trailers, lightening, don’t matter if excessive fuels are not present… that is the critical and most important point….

Wildfires are about the key one-hour class fuels, which are grass and brush.

No Fuel = No fire. It’s that simple.

Legislators and public officials everywhere need to learn more about Wild Horse Fire Brigade.

More at:

#WildHorses #WildFires #WHFB

12 replies »

  1. Yes, the Fire Triangle. No, dissing an NPR reporter on the semantics of his opener to start out making a singular point that is easily made without the attitude. I would rather be inviting him into the field to learn. As Champions, one of our tasks is to bring others along, to learn, to grow, to see. And perhaps to become Champions themselves, or at least partners with mutual understanding and cause. Hard to do when we diss them from the start. ‘Nuff said.


    • Reporter should know & understand what he’s talking about. Yes, let’s educate all. No disgust, but fact. Wild horses & Burros are being killed as we write these comments, so you get emotional about the subject. I totally understand this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are so right. Where there is an imbalance in nature, nature, when it can corrects itself. As for our NOT nationally funded, but Gates funded NPR, their omission of the real fuel is expected. I believe John stossel’s report on the mismanagement of CA forests being the reason for the forest reset there, not global warming as Newsom says, has been banned from YouTube just recently so the writing is on the wall. We won’t see real solutions from our government Forestry Service just like we don’t see real solutions from the BLM for wild horses. When do you think they will start blaming wild horses for global warming?. That will be rich.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I live here in Colorado, and there are two glaring issues you didn’t mention as you have us out mowing our grasslands – we had historic winds yesterday, over 110 MPH! That part of the state has had little precipitation since early summer. Normally, we have about 17 inches of snow by now. The town of Lewisville and Superior with the surrounding neighborhoods are where people live. Downtown areas burned, and a hospital was evacuated.

    I enjoy this weekly update on the conditions of our wild horses, but please don’t start with the politics and the finger pointing. Enough!


  4. Capt. Simpson evidently isn’t familiar with prairie fire dynamics, or the natural conditions on the Front Range. Add in epic, lasting drought conditions which have left grasses short and sparse – even in residential areas, which this fire rampaged through — and sustained high winds (110 mph, high even for this typically high windy foothills area), and a presumed spark or two from arcing power lines and you have a recipe for destructive fire. One wonders if he’s even been here, which is a mix urban/suburban, large houses cheek by jowl, ever-increasing high speed highways cutting across open short grass prairie areas —grasses even shorter this year, and extremely dry, intermixed with numerous large dying Cottonwoods and Willows. Not to mention this is a fire adapted prairie ecosystem upon which people are allowed to build dense neighborhoods and drill for oil and gas.

    There simply is no justification for his animosity toward overwhelmed reporters or those living here trying to deal with tragedy that simplistic notions of “proper grazing” cannot ever address. It seems his answer to everything is to take wild horses off their legal rangelands, replace them with cattle, and everyone can live happily ever after. How sad it is RT Fitch has let this one loud voice take over this site, I’m weighing in here only because this is my home state and it is clear this latest burst of supreme knowledge is out of bounds and utterly heartless. How about a bit of compassion for the people, animals, homes, and wildlife affected by this event? Stay in CA please and take a look in the mirror once in a while.

    Happy New Year to all who survived 2021.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have to say that if reporters are overwhelmed they should focus on fact checking not assembly line reporting. The media does a huge amount of damage on a variety of issues by spreading propaganda instead of having integrity and reporting the facts. Truth is truth whether it hurts industry or not should be told. if the media bothered to report the truth about the long list of problems raising/eating cattle cause like water pollution, health problems and diseases and land destruction perhaps the country wouldn’t be so addicted to eating cows in the first place. So few horse advos even bother to acknowledge these issues instead they just beg for money to do nothing.

    The fire brigade is not a land grab. The whole premise is wilderness areas still have a roadless rule which prohibits mining/ranching/drilling…so far. So that’s where the horses would go. It’s idiotic to think the blm will put back horses it spent millions removing or that ranchers will suddenly lay down for that. If we put horses in areas where there are still a few predators to keep their population naturally in check and where they can reduce fire then maybe just maybe the lightbulb will go on and the masses will see the benefits. furthermore the HMA’s are pretty baron with over grazing by livestock why put horses back there when you could put them where they have a chance to survive ? Doing the same thing hoping for a different result is the definition is insanity which is where the non profits like HSUS, ASPCA, RTF & AWHC are. There is a chance but the window is closing.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. BLM should put our horses on the millions of acres [on Public Lands] that are at higher elevations where cattle won’t go. Horses can live in about any conditions as they have proven. Look how many years they have been doing it. These areas aren’t so high up that it would be debatable to their health. Besides almost any place would be better than what’s happening to them now.
    Instead, they’re staying in horrible conditions without any protections from the elements. not enough food or water. They should all be released back to their homes. Screw the ranchers etc. The BLM has pocketed as money as they can, and our stupid Congress is making the US citizen pay for roundups and they don’t have a clue.
    Over the years BLM have taken horses allotted by law. That’s why they say there are too many which isn’t true
    at all. We need more information [the right kind] put out to the public to help horses live like they should!


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