27 Jul '12, 11am

The West in flames: Get used to it

The West in flames: Get used to it

This year’s Whitewater Baldy Complex fire in New Mexico is the largest in the state’s history. (Photo by Gila National Forest .) Dire fire conditions, like the inferno of heat, turbulence, and fuel that recently turned 346 homes in Colorado Springs, Colo., to ash, are now common in the West. A lethal combination of drought, insect plagues, windstorms, and legions of dead, dying, or stressed-out trees constitute what some pundits are calling wildfire’s “perfect storm.” They are only half right. This summer’s conditions may indeed be perfect for fire in the Southwest and West, but if you think of them as a “storm,” perfect or otherwise — that is, sudden, violent, and temporary — then you don’t understand what’s happening in this country or on this planet. Look at those 346 burnt homes again, or at the High Park fire that ate 87,284 acres and 259 homes west of Fort Collins, C...

Full article: http://grist.org/climate-change/the-west-in-flames-get-us...

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