How Wildfire Fighters Decide When A Home Can’t Be Saved

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Photo: 416 Fire June 12 | Night Firefighter
Fighting the 416 Fire in Southwest Colorado.

Wildfires across the state have burned vast acreages and damaged or destroyed more than 200 homes. Of course, that means many more have been saved from the blazes. That leads to the question: How do firefighters decide whether or not a home can be saved? Brian Delasantos, captain and wildland fire coordinator for Littleton Fire and Rescue, talked to Colorado Matters about that decision-making process.

Life, that of citizens and of firefighters, is the number one priority, Delasantos said. Property and then environment follow. That risk is real: 60 firefighters died while on duty in 2017, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Fire crews also have to weigh the environment around a home. Houses built on top of hills may be too dangerous to consider saving, Delasantos said, because a rising fire might cut off escape routes.