So fire remains an index of our times: it’s like a driverless car barreling down a highway, integrating all the relevant factors around it. Fire is a natural phenomenon, and if humanity disappeared fire would still thrive. But most of fire’s factors remain under the influence, though not the control, of humanity. The pathologies of our fire scene are the national pathologies pyrolyzed into flame. Megafires are the 1% (literally, the 0.1%) of the nation’s fires that account for 80-90% of burned area and costs.
So notes historian Stephen j. Pyne about fires. He has a new book out (Between Two Fires), but he summarizes the burden of the book in an incisive post at the History News Network. You can read his entire piece here: History News Network | Why Forest Fires Seem Like They Are Getting Out of Control