What to let burn, what to save? Firefighters must practice triage in California

Hosted by

Chula Vista firefighter Rudy Diaz monitors the LNU Lightning Complex Fire as it engulfs brush in Lake County, California, U.S. August 23, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

Hundreds of wildfires continue to rip through large swaths of California. Many were sparked by thousands of dry lightning strikes last week. More than a million acres have burned, and many in Northern California. More than a quarter of a million people have been told to evacuate, and seven people have died.

Resources are limited. Firefighters are working 24-hour shifts, exhausted and with little backup. The governor has appealed to other states — even to Australia — to send reinforcements.

Meanwhile, state officials and the U.S. Forest Service have signed an agreement that will change the way that forests are managed for years to come. The centerpiece of the agreement is a plan to clear brush and thin trees in an area about the size of Yosemite National Park each year, along with brush clearance around private property, and creating fuel breaks between wild areas and communities.

Credits

Guest:
Lenya Quinn-Davidson - Area Fire Advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County, CA; Director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin, Kathryn Barnes