I would like to try to clear up the issue of how much damage the 10 a.m. rule did. I can’t.
You have asked for scientists to answer, but this isn’t a science question. To find out how much damage the rule did in a scientific manner we would have to control for everything else that contributed and we didn’t ever do that.
Climate change contributed, poor management of timber sales contributed, failure to use controlled burning contributed. Yes, the rule definitely contributed.
Your friend who said the rule was number one either has a crystal ball or was simply stating an opinion. I have a different opinion on what was number one, but it hardly matters when eliminating any one of our failures might have significantly decreased our losses to fire. They all matter, along with a bunch of things I haven’t thought of… or at least not at this moment.
Am I a scientist? Probably not by your definition. I worked as an archaeologist and saw the history of fire on the landscape.