Experts use science to fight Waldo Canyon Fire

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. --  Fire fighters are battling extreme heat and erratic winds, making the Waldo Canyon Fire hard to predict.

But it’s Diana Allen’s job to predict the unpredictable. Allen is a fire behavior analyst, fighting the fire from behind a computer screen.

She is part of a team of experts who travel to the biggest and most complex fires across the country. They look at weather patterns, fuel and terrain to track the path of the fire and determine which way it will head next. “These guys, the firefighters on the ground need to know what’s going to happen,” she says.

Allen’s team meets with the firefighters every morning to advise them which areas they should focus on and how to stay safe.

But she admits, sometimes even the best data is no match for mother nature.

Allen’s team could tell conditions were ripe for a monster fire storm last week, but even they didn’t know how bad it would be. “It did catch us all by surprise, how intense that fire was.”

Allen and her team will eventually leave Colorado for the next fire emergency.

But she says the losses she could not prevent at the Waldo Canyon Fire will be with her. “I don't think there was something different I could have done, but you say what if...what if."

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