Articles on Wildfires

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Smoke billows from the High Park wildfire west of Fort Collins, Colo., on June 11, 2012, a year of historic drought across much of the western United States. AP Photo/Ed Andrieski

Climate change is driving wildfires, and not just in California

Some observers have blamed recent wildfires on poor forest management, while others point to climate change. In fact, a climate scientist explains, reducing fire risks means tackling both issues.
An image from the International Space Station captures plumes of smoke from California wildfires on August 4, 2018. NASA

Wildfire smoke is becoming a nationwide health threat

Haze from Northern California wildfires has drifted as far east as Philadelphia. Wildfire smoke contains many potentially toxic substances, so anyone exposed to it should take basic precautions.
President Donald Trump and other federal and state officials tour a mobile home and RV park on Nov. 17, 2018 in the wake of the Camp Fire. Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool

Better forest management won’t end wildfires, but it can reduce the risks – here’s how

Forest management is not a cure-all for wildfires, although it can help reduce the chances of massive burns. Making this happen will require broad collaborative efforts and more money.
Many California wildfires spread from structure to structure, fed by the winds. Cal Fire

How fierce fall and winter winds help fuel California fires

The dry, hot, downslope Santa Ana winds of Southern California fan late fall wildfires that have largely traveled through – and are fueled by – homes and other structures.
A firefighter in California. Firefighting is getting more and more expensive as fires get more destructive. PETER DASILVA

The bitter lesson of the Californian fires

The California fires are just the most recent in a series of major wildfires. Together, they suggest we need to look at alternative ways of living with fire.
Trees have died in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo., as climate change has intensified bark beetle infestations and drought. Patrick Gonzalez

Human-caused climate change severely exposes the US national parks

As climate change alters temperature and precipitation patterns across the US, it is having especially severe impacts on national parks. These changes could happen faster than many plants and animals can adapt.
The 2016 Maple fire (photographed in July 2017) reburned young forests that had regenerated after the 1988 Yellowstone fires. More frequent high-severity fires are expected in the future as climate warms, which may change patterns of forest recovery. Monica Turner

Here’s how forests rebounded from Yellowstone’s epic 1988 fires – and why that could be harder in the future

Huge fires roared through Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 1988, scorching one-third of the park. Since then the park has been a valuable lab for studying how forests recover from fires.
Cal Fire Division Chief Mark Higgins directs helicopters dropping water in Lakeport, California. AP Photo/Noah Berger

Wildfires are inevitable – increasing home losses, fatalities and costs are not

As California reels from another devastating fire season, environmental resource scholars explain how the state – and other fire-prone areas – can better prepare and coexist with wildfires.
Firefighters hose down flames from an advancing wildfire July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

A high-adrenaline job: 5 questions answered about fighting wildfires

Wildland firefighting has always been a risky job, but development in fire-prone areas is making it more dangerous by putting forest firefighters in situations they are not equipped or trained for.

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