Wyoming man to lead Colorado review team

Apr 3, 2012 The Associated Press

DENVER (AP) -- Wyoming's Bighorn National Forest supervisor William Bass will lead a four-person review team that will examine the prescribed burn that apparently sparked a deadly wildfire southwest of Denver.

Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed Bass Monday following calls for an independent review by Hickenlooper and Colorado State University, which oversees the Colorado State Forest Service that conducted the burn.

Bass' team will examine the planning of the burn, procedures in place and how it was carried out. The review is expected to take about 30 days.

Bass's review is separate from a criminal investigation into three deaths apparently caused by the fire and a possible federal review into response coordination, fire suppression efforts and communication among responders and residents.

Bass is a 37-year forest service veteran with extensive fire related experience.

The high-profile review comes as several controlled burns are planned this spring in northwestern Wyoming.

Rangers in the Shoshone National Forest want to conduct four burns, including a 500 to 750 acre burn aimed at improving wildlife habitat, regenerating aspen and reducing vegetation that could fuel a wildfire.

The goals of the other burns there include improving bighorn sheep habitat and getting rid of beetle-killed trees.

In the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park, fire managers want to thin sagebrush and rejuvenate aspen growth to help protect nearby homes from potential wildfires.

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