In organizations that value accountability, when major mistakes are made, heads must roll. Yet in the Lower North Fork Fire, which began due to errors made by the state government, and tragically killed three people, no one has been fired. Why?
When the GSA Las Vegas conference spending scandal was revealed, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson stepped down and a host of other employees involved were fired. After the JP Morgan $2 billion loss, the trader mostly responsible for the loss and his boss were publicly pushed out. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned after the 2006 midterm shellacking.
Accountability matters. But, so far, it doesn't seem to matter to Governor Hickenlooper.
In the case of the the Lower North Fork Fire, the mistakes were made by the Colorado State Forest Service, which is headed by Jeff Jahnke.
Hickenlooper, though, doesn't appear inclined to hold Jahnke responsible, telling 7News: "As much as you want someone to be found responsible and held accountable, we don't know for sure, yet, I don't think, how responsible anyone was and whether this wasn't just a freak act of nature."
That's BS, Governor, and you know it. As 7News pointed out, serious errors were made:
The facts from the Governor's own review show that the Colorado State Forest Service violated its own prescribed burn plan by not monitoring the burn area for a minimum of three days, specifically Sunday, March 25 — the day before the fire reignited and escaped.
"There was one break of protocol where no one went and looked at the fire on Sunday. Now, Bill Bass thought that did not contribute to the escape of the fire because they came back on Monday morning and the fire was completely out, or they felt it was completely out. And while they were there just kind of walking around and rolling up hoses and leaving, they judged the fire to be completely controlled, suddenly this freak wind came up," said Hickenlooper.
Wind was forecast ahead of time. On Saturday, the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Watch for the burn area to take effect Monday. By Sunday, the watch became a Red Flag Warning to take effect Monday. A Red Flag Warning is issued by the National Weather Service to call attention of forecast users to special conditions that may result in extreme burning conditions. It may forecast rapid changes in weather conditions which may increase the fire danger rapidly.
Serious errors were made in the controlled burn, serious errors that destroyed homes and lives. As the review of the fire reveals, it was not some freak accident.
The Colorado State Forest Service screwed up, and it's time the press start asking Hickenlooper about Jeff Jahnke and others who should be held responsible.
(Photo via Colorado Department of National Resources)