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Fire Control and the 2015 Canyon Creek Complex Fire

Author(s): Hutch Brown
Year Published: 2018

Accordingly, the average annual risk of a wildfire destroying a home in the WUI was less than 1 onehundredth of 1 percent. Of course, the risk is much higher in fire-prone parts of the South and West, but so are expectations that government firefighters will come to the rescue (NWCG 2001; Pyne 2015; Stein and others 2013). Confident that they can shape wild landscapes to their liking, people have bought homes in the WUI believing that wildfires could be controlled (Bramwell 2014; Gorte 1995). They did so in part because the Forest Service had told them so. For most of its history, the agency waged a relentless war on wildfire (Pyne 1982, 2001, 2015), “creating a false sense of security and outsized expectations from homeowners” (Bramwell 2014). The expectations persist. During fire season, the prevailing mindset in the public, the media, and the Forest Service alike revolves around wildland fire suppression, despite the limitations of fire control—and despite the responsibility of homeowners for treating fuels in and around their homes. So when disaster strikes and homes burn down, the natural reaction is to blame the Forest Service for fire control failure and for the Forest Service to blame fuels, weather, insufficient resources—anything but the susceptibility of the homes themselves to ignition and destruction.

Citation: Brown H. 2018. Fire Control and the 2015 Canyon Creek Complex Fire. Fire Management Today 76 (1): 36-41.
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Extreme Fire Behavior, Case Studies, Fire Communication & Education, Public Perspectives of Fire Management, Wildland Urban Interface
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 17757
Record updated: Mar 24, 2021