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Fire seasons are becoming longer and more severe than ever before—increasing the threats to property and lives and straining the federal budget. The United States now spends as much as 2 billion dollars per year fighting wildfires.
Climate change has intensified droughts and brought higher-than-average temperatures. Decades of misguided fire management policies have left many forests primed for larger, more intense fires. And resources and priorities have shifted to protecting homes, as residential development booms in the wildlands of the American West.
The wildfires that ripped through forests and communities in the 2013 season caused new levels of damage and devastation. The Black Forest Fire—the most destructive in Colorado’s history—destroyed nearly 500 homes and killed two residents. In Yarnell, Arizona, 19 firefighters died when a fast-moving brushfire overtook them. Then the ferocious Rim Fire threatened Yosemite National Park and became one of the largest in California’s history, costing more than $100 million to fight.
Fault Lines follows the 2013 wildfire season to examine what is going wrong with the war on wildfires.
Original air date: October 23, 2013
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