PHOENIX, Ariz. — “This is just the season for big fires and we go through this every year with it being hot, dry and windy leading into the monsoon,” said Arizona State University Professor Steve Pyne.
According to Pyne, all of that is folding into decades of change in how fire is managed on the public lands. Climate change and two decades of drought in Arizona also play a role.
“The climate we’re seeing now is not outside of historic range,” he said. “This is not 2002 when we were off the charts. We’re going to see more large fires and part of that is because of policy. We’re going to see entire mountain ranges burned over as we’re seeing right now in New Mexico.
“Big fires are not always bad fires. We have a legacy of letting fuels build up on the lands and putting homes and communities in risky places. There is no simple solution to [stopping big fires] but it is not beyond our capability to solve.”
Pyne said the large area fires that are high intensity is what is different from the past.
“We used to deal with large grassland fires and they didn’t produce the intensity we’re seeing now,” he