US testing new fire deterrent, critics push other methods

Spring Wildfires New Mexico

In this photo released by the U.S. Forest Service, an aircraft known as a “super scooper” battles the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fires in the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico on Thursday, April 28, 2022. Firefighters have been making significant progress on the biggest wildfires burning unusually hot and fast for this time of year in the western U.S. But forecasters from the Southwest to the southern High Plains are warning of the return the next two days of the same gusty winds and critical fire conditions that sent wildland blazes racing across the landscape last week. (J. Michael Johnson/U.S. Forest Service via AP)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. officials are testing a new wildfire retardant after two decades of buying millions of gallons annually from one supplier, but critics say the expensive strategy is overly fixated on aerial attacks at the expense of hiring more fire-line digging ground crews.

The Forest Service says tests started last summer are continuing this summer with a magnesium-chloride-based retardant from Fortress. Fortress contends its retardants are effective and better for the environment than products offered by Perimeter Solutions.

That company says its ammonium-phosphate-based retardants are superior.

The Forest Service used more than 50 million gallons of retardant for the first time in 2020 as increasingly destructive wildfires plague the West.

Categories: National News