Fifty-two large fires are now burning 748,987 acres in the western United States, with many proving to be very difficult to contain. The number that have burned by this time of year is the largest in a decade, with 33,000 fires searing over 1.9 million acres by July 12.
In California, fire is as natural and necessary as the rain and wind. Yet how humans manage to co-exist with flora and fauna determines whether natural cycles and events are manageable or rage out of control. Of late, we see, like the fires, the types of hurricanes and floods, more intense and more regular that remind us something is out of balance. Are we listening? One such event that drew our attention was the total destruction of Paradise, California in November, 2018. It burned the town of Paradise, home to 27,000, to the ground. And it was a harbinger of fires to come. Calling it the ‘new normal’ is oddly hopeful. Coming events could well surpass this unspeakable level of danger, which claimed 85 lives and came to be the deadliest ever wildfire in the state. There was once seasonal blazes, as are necessary to maintain various plant species. Today the growing legion of firefighters in California wonder if there is a ‘fire season’. There are many factors contributing to the raging flames in the area and they have parallels with other natural disasters we are experiencing. As man tries to dominate the planet for our growing population, painfully we’re beginning to recognize the limits to the control we can exert. The natural world, in this case, and many others seems to be biting back. To understand the complex factors involved in the form of a fire disaster, we turn to Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano, co-authors of ‘Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy