Living with fire: minimizing your risk

By Bill Trimarco

Special to The SUN

Wildfire has been a major force in creating the landscape here and in many areas of the world. Anthropologists theorize that wildfire had a great influence on society, also. It is believed that humans first began to use fire by scavenging coals and embers left in the wake of wildfire. Indigenous peoples appreciated the benefits of fire for cooking, heating, hunting and managing the landscape. Evidence suggests they also knew when to get out of the way when wildfire threatened.

Fire is at the heart of our energy use to this day. Whether generating heat and electricity or driving our cars, controlled fire is a central part of our lifestyle, economic system and social structure. Uncontrolled fire can cause death and bring devastation.

In the southwest, frequent lightning strikes can easily start fires. The seasonal monsoon weather often brings hundreds of lightning strikes with each storm. This has been happening for millennia. The vegetation that survived and thrived here is adapted to cycles of wildfire. The ponderosa pine is a perfect example.

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