The entire town of Pateros has been evacuated and people told not to return to their homes on Friday due to one of the seven wildfires burning throughout Washington State according to NBC News. These fires have now devastated over 60 square miles of forest and grassland ecosystems in the state. Over 50 square miles have burned already in the Mills Canyon Complex that constitutes three separate wildfires. One fire has cut power to Methow Valley, a resort town, and caused the closure of highway 20 and 153. Many homes have already been destroyed by these fires.
The Carlton Complex fires were ignited by lightning, but it matters little who or what ignited the fires. The real cause of these catastrophic wildfires in the Western United States, and around the word, is the rotting down of light fire ecosystems by disease and debris buildup. ["Light fire ecosystems" are those which, in their natural state, experience frequent burning that maintains the balance among the indigenous flora and fauna. - ed] Such hazardous conditions are prevented by light natural fires or by prescribed burning. Controlled burning, or prescribed fire, is used to simulate natural fire in such light fire ecosystems where fires can no longer be allowed to burn naturally.
What a sad state of affairs as hundreds of millions of acres of light fire ecosystems are being devastated annually by 120 years of misguided government fire exclusion policies and Smokey the Bear propaganda claiming falsely that forest fires must be suppressed. What we have now is a widespread culture of fire suppression in the United States and around the world that is very difficult to change into one of good fire management.
No matter how much scientific evidence we now have that fire is a necessary part of earth's ecosystems, nothing seems able to counter the decades of past government brainwashing of the public that fire is bad for nature. Making things even worse is that special interests are now making billions a year in the fire suppression industry. What we need now is not more multi-million dollar tanker planes that only contribute to the debris buildup through fire exclusion. What we need is a huge public relations operation promoting the necessity of light fire to the public and prescribed fire in our global ecosystems. Because the public has been deceived for so long even environmentalists and regulators are contributing to slowing down the process of prescribed fire, even when the government land management agencies now realize the importance of prescribed fire.
Prescribed burns or light natural fires sweep the forest clean on a frequent basis, so that debris does not build up to catastrophic wildfire proportions. The trees have insulating bark to protect them from light fire but not from catastrophic fire, and their needles are flammable, adapted to burn out the competition. So when man excludes fire the flammable debris accumulates and wildfire destroys the very ecosystems that need light fire the most. Anybody who has more interest in learning more as to the importance of fire in light fire ecosystems can read my new book Fire in Nature, A Fire Activists Guide for free on its website.