Stephen Pyne, one of the world's leading experts on the environmental history of fire, offered his opinions on the U.S. approach to wildfire in a recent Op-Ed in The Washington Post. His stance is a response to some of this year's biggest fires, including the Black Forest Fire in Colorado and California's Rim Fire, and the ever-present challenges of living in the wildland/urban interface.
"Today, the issue is no longer just ill-sited McMansions but a giant retrofit for 30 years of irrationally exuberant sprawl," states Pyne. "The National Association of State Foresters estimates that more than 72,000 communities are at risk and only 20 percent have a plan for protection.
"We know how to keep houses from burning. And we should know that if we build houses in the fire equivalent of a flood plain or a barrier island, the primary responsibility for protecting them is ours."