Can California Burn its Way Out of its Wildfire Problem?

A firefighter works a prescribed burn at the Shasta National Forest.(Molly Samuel/KQED)
A firefighter works a prescribed burn at the Shasta National Forest. (Molly Samuel/KQED)

The Rim Fire, which consumed more than 250,000 acres in and around Yosemite National Park this summer, is a prime example of America’s dangerous legacy of putting out too many wildfires. After a century of suppressing the flames, firefighting agencies have let the brush and small trees get so thick, that when a fire does get going, it can turn into a monster.

People who fight and study fire generally agree that one of the best tools for preventing massive wildfires is prescribed burning: intentionally setting smaller fires before the big ones hit. But there are major challenges to fighting fire with fire.

This featured aired on KQED on November 18, 2013. There are a lot more pictures from the fire I went to on the website.

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Molly Samuel

Molly joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.

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