From the Washington Post: Housing developments near drying forests a deadly combination in the West. From the lead in:
As the climate warms, forest fires in the West increasingly will feast on acres of dry brush, growing into giants. In a cycle that will become routine, homeowners will flee, while firefighters will rush toward their houses — and away from areas where they could be putting out wildfires.
Bigger, unwieldy burns — megafires — are becoming the new normal, according to a new report, which points to several reasons: States such as California are getting parched more frequently by drought; housing developments are pushing more deeply into forests; and the U.S. Forest Service is generally suppressing fires rather than letting them burn naturally, which would reduce the brush that fuels future fires.
As the climate warms, the West will dry, providing an ecological buffet for giant fires.
“That’s one of our biggest conundrums,” said Scott L. Stephens, a professor of fire science at the University of California at Berkeley. “We continue building. We make fire management so much more difficult. The first thing you’re going to do is run and protect people’s homes.”