Arizona State University

Some wildfires simply can't be fought

Some wildfires simply can't be fought

There is a cadence to fire season and a predictability to the headlines: A wildfire is burning, homes are threatened, residents are urged to evacuate.

We’ve grown used to watching the air-and-ground assaults. The image of a DC-10 dumping retardant on burning brush is an indelible symbol of our attempt to control nature. We’ve come to expect that firefighters will bring flames into submission because they so often have — and this has made us comfortable.

Perhaps too comfortable. Despite the reassuring images of firefighters conquering wildfires, the truth is that once a large fire is burning, there’s very little that firefighters can do to stop it, or to protect homes nearby....

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