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#PoolParty : Staff of Alaska Sen. Murkowski wagered on wildfires


WASHINGTON — Severe criticism from the wildland firefighters association and the parents of a fallen firefighter have committee staffers for Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski apologizing for an office pool on how many acres wildland fires will destroy.

The annual pool was run by Frank Gladics, who handles national wildfire issues as a top Republican staffer on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Murkowski, as ranking Republican on the committee, is his boss. The most recent winner of the wildfire office pool is longtime Murkowski aide Chuck Kleeschulte, who she named to the committee in 2009.

The parents of Caleb Hamm, a 24-year-old from Idaho who died battling a wildfire last summer, are expressing outrage over the pool.

"Someone sitting in a cushy chair in an air-conditioned office, taking wagers, while our men and women are out there fighting in the heat and hell of the fires, that bugs me," Lynnette Hamm said on Thursday.

The Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, an advocacy group that represents all branches of...