Word from the fire lines is that much of acreage of the Las Conchas fire burning near Los Alamos, NM consists of ground fire only – i.e not in the crowns of the trees.
Why is this? Starting in 1977, several very large fires burned the excessively thick growth and ground cover out – leaving a thinner, healthier forest. Now that those same areas are burning again, the fire simply clears out the litter on the forest floor, and scorches only the outer bark of the trees.
Smokey The Bear was responsible for the earlier catastrophic crown fires, but as his legacy burns – the forest returns to a healthier state.