Not all wildfires should be considered disasters

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on Jul 11, 2012

Arizona Daily StarJulie Rogers, a Tucson resident and education director for the nonprofit Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology, authored a guest column for the Arizona Daily Star.  She feels that the recent wildfires in the national forests of Arizona and New Mexico, and the blazes in Colorado, give us opportunity to reflect on wildland fires and how we should respond to them.

She proposes that, except when fire danger is high, most lightning-caused fires in unpopulated areas should be allowed to burn, as has occurred in some wilderness areas for decades with positive results. She also feels that the media's depiction of all wildfires as disasters needs to be stopped. Fires only become disasters when people build flammable houses in places they shouldn't. Historically, most wildland areas burn, and need to burn, every few decades. People who build houses near rivers take the risk of flooding. Similarly, people who build houses in wildlands take the risk of burning.

What should we do? Julie says that we need to stop building houses in fire-prone areas. Residents already there must prepare their homes to survive with Firewise principles (see We need to let many lightning-caused wildfires burn when conditions are favorable. And we need more prescribed fires to restore our forests to health.

In sum, we need to stop fighting nature and learn to live with her realities.