People whose homes were threatened by last summer's forest fires in Yellowstone National Park say the latest reports on the park's handling of the fires are an admission that mistakes were made.
The report on the handling of the Clover-Mist fire said the fires could have been extinguished in the early stages. Park officials said they based decisions to let fires burn on their experience with fires and weather since the 1970s, rather than on the extreme drought conditions of 1988."I feel it was their job to evaluate the (weather) situation as it was," Yellowstone Trading Post owner Phyliss Kiley said Monday from Cooke City. "That's what farmers and people in the ski industry have to do. That's their business . . .
"They're not saying their policy was wrong," Kiley said, referring to the controversial "let burn" policy. "They're just saying that they underestimated the fire."
Patti Smith, owner of the Bearclaw cabins in Cooke City, said Monday that, while she was surprised at any Park Service admissions of error, she also felt that park managers should have known better.
"You can't rely on past history, past weather conditions. You have to live with what's going on now," Smith told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Hays Kirby, owner of the Grizzly cabins in Silver Gate, said that he was not surprised either by the Park Service statements but added that he hoped for productive change as a result.
"I think they let all the fires burn," Kirby said. "But it really doesn't surprise me that they would admit they made a mistake on this incident. But if they can admit they were wrong then maybe something productive can come of it."