Yes, California always had wildfires, but no one was prepared for them to get this big, this soon. What do we do now?
After another devastating year, it’s clear that Californians can’t keep trying to “fight” wildfires. Instead, they need to accept it as their new reality.
On California’s fall fire days — days with high temperatures and wind speeds, as well as low humidity — all it takes is a spark from a downed power line to start an inferno. New research indicates that they’re about to become a lot more common.
There are ways to keep people and homes safer from wildfires. Then, there’s what California does.
The West will need “good fire” — controlled, managed fire that balances the ecosystem — to stave off deadly, out-of-control fire. We need to know what that looks like.
Record high temperatures. Record fires. Record smoke. ProPublica reporter Elizabeth Weil spoke to former California Gov. Jerry Brown about the state’s converging apocalypses.
This is a story about frustration, about watching the West burn when you fully understand why it’s burning — and understand why it did not need to be this bad.