I watched the video the National Park Service recently released of the Howe Ridge Fire. I also read the editorial Chris Pederson wrote concerning this same video. I share his concerns about the failure to identify any of the individuals who were involved in managing the incident, including those individuals who were responsible for the overall actions and inactions made by the park.
Life safety is singularly the highest priority of the National Park Service. Numerous residents of the burned area stated that they were never contacted about the rapidly approaching wildfire or advised to evacuate. Two hikers nearly lost their lives and eventually had to be evacuated by a civilian boat. During this time park employees at the lodge were allegedly helping visitors set up spotting scopes to better view the incident.
A possible solution might be to establish a local incident management team that could be interagency in composition. The Incident Commander would receive a Delegation of Authority to determine the best course of action and implement
Emergencies are fortunately rare, but an agency’s responsibility to adequately respond to them can not be lessened due to budget and staffing cuts. I feel that park managers need to better prepare for emergencies such as this one in order to better protect those they are mandated to serve.