This week marks the six-month anniversary of Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire, the deadliest day for firefighters since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots died during the incident.
Commemorating the June 30 event is The Weather Channel, which has developed the documentary and long-form article, "America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tragedy and the Nation's Wildfire Crisis." The video recaps radio communication from the team the day of the fire and includes fresh interviews with fire historians, meteorologists, fire investigators, and widows of the men who lost their lives. Also providing his take on U.S. wildfires in recent years is Stephen Pyne, who is regarded as one of the world's leading experts in the environmental history of fire. (Read the NFPA Journal interview with Pyne.)
"The way you control fire is by controlling what is out there," Pyne says in the documentary. "So, we're going to have a lot more fires in the landscape unless you take control of the landscape itself." The long-form article mentions NFPA's Firewise Communities Program, which encourages homeowners living in the wildland/urban interface (WUI) to mitigate their wildfire risks.
The article also raises larger questions on the state of wildfires in the U.S., the role of climate change, and the current challenges of living in the WUI. "We can't rest on our laurels anymore," says meteorologist Mike Bettes in the video. "We're getting to a point where these events have become so extreme. [The Yarnell Hill Fire] is a call to action."