Photo of forest fire and elk in creek reflected in water | 2018-08

Suppressing every fire can lead to catastrophic forest fires later, says Disaster and Emergency Prof


Photo of Prof Eric Kennedy

York University’s Disaster and Emergency Management Professor Eric Kennedy spoke with Anna Brooks from Popular Science for an article entitled “How parched states like California fight wildfires.

“It’s easy to think of fighting fires by getting out a hose and spraying water on it, but that’s not how it works,” said Kennedy.

Predicting when a fire will spark or how rapid it will spread is very difficult. Disaster experts, such as Kennedy, believe that the best course of action is to fight the fire before it starts. He recommends cutting down or clearing out trees that are close to houses to protect residences, as well as removing dry and dead trees.  Cutting down trees, however, has its downsides such as the destruction of natural habitats crucial to certain plants and animals.

“Fire is as natural as anything else on Earth—it will always be part of ecosystems,” said Kennedy. “The lesson fire management agencies have learned over the past several decades is that by suppressing every fire, you create really high fuel loads that raise the potential for catastrophe down the road.”

Read the full article in Popular Science.