Years ago, as a college student spending summers as a "smokejumper," I was most often working with one partner putting out small forest fires, and sometimes it was just one tree (even though that tree was 130 feet tall, had a girth of 15 feet and bark 6 inches thick).

As a "city kid," I hadn't seen big timber, and hadn't even been in an airplane prior to making my first practice jump, but I understood that fighting forest fires had two basic premises: 1) fire will be more likely to spread than burn itself out, and 2) fires should be contained as quickly as possible, because wind and other weather conditions are unpredictable.

Early decisionmaking regarding the Pagami Creek fire effort was a major mistake by someone, or perhaps two or three someones. While Rod Sando ("Forest Service deserves credit, not blame, for Pagami fire effort," Nov. 4) was correct that there were no human deaths, the close calls were too close, and we were lucky.

Sando did not spell out the costs of the fire, but rather than give accolades to the Forest Service, we taxpayers should be screaming mad at the millions of dollars wasted in fighting a large fire when we had an option to close it down much sooner.