Ecologists agree that there is no way to win the War Against Wildfire. So why is the Forest Service spending more than ever on fire suppression?
Jack Cohen, a USFS researcher at the fire lab in Missoula, MT, has studied fire patterns for years, and he says there are a few simple steps homeowners can take to protect their property. The most important is to not have a flammable roof; a metal roof might not have the sylvan attractiveness of cedar shingles, but it’s the best way to prevent a home fire. Cohen’s second recommendation is for homeowners to clear brush, dead trees, pine cones, and pine needles for at least 100 feet away from structures, creating what is called “defensible space.”
“By and large, we don’t have a choice over fire behavior,” Cohen says. “But what we can do is reduce the vulnerability of the house. And the way to do that is through some relatively simple things. We don’t have to live in a concrete bunker to do this.”