Capturing Wildfire, an evening featuring veteran wildland photographer Kari Greer's photos, a screening of the short film Unacceptable Risk and a town hall discussion on Colorado's shifting fire regime and local solutions, will be held next week. Free and open to the public, Capturing Wildfire will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the Center for Southwest Studies Lyceum at Fort Lewis College.
A former wildland firefighter turned wildland fire photographer, Greer works under contract with the National Interagency Fire Center and travels across the country documenting wildfires and the men and women who dedicate their lives to fighting them. She will share her photos and discuss her experience of photography on the frontlines of fire, as well as the importance of her images during and after a wildland fire incident.
The short documentary Unacceptable Risk features four veteran Colorado firefighters who have battled many of Colorado's epic fires of the past decade. In the film, Don Whittemore, a veteran wildland firefighter and incident commander, speaks about his experience on the 2002 Hayman Fire, the most devastating fire in Colorado's history
"We are being confronted and asked to suppress fires that didn't exist 20 years ago," he says in the film. "The combination of drought-stressed trees, lack of spring moisture and higher-than-normal temperatures is shifting the fire environment."
Whittemore and other firefighters share their stories about how they have witnessed fire behavior change in their lifetimes and how these unexpected changes are creating larger life-safety issues. This "new normal" on the fireline corresponds with what scientists have observed: that warming temperatures have led to a cascade of impacts that affect the fire regime in the West.
Following the film screening, a panel discussion will focus on field experiences and risk mitigation from local wildfire experts. This is an excellent opportunity for the fire community and the public to discuss challenges and solutions to the growing wildfire problem in the West.
The event is sponsored by Firewise Southwest Colorado, Southern Rockies Fire Science Network, Mountain Studies Institute, Fort Lewis College and Working Films.