Fighting Fire With Fire? Prescribed Burns Still Help Prevent Wildfires

Jul 8, 2019

The saying goes: only you can prevent wildfires. But it turns out, a few other methods are also pretty effective in curbing those seasonal menaces.


Overgrown vegetation is perfect wildfire fuel. Burning this overgrowth under the watchful eye of fire crews can help prevent future uncontrolled wildfire flames


Jessica Gardetto is a spokesperson for the National Interagency Fire Center based in Boise. She says that among other prevention techniques, prescribed burns can be very effective.  


“Prescribed fires have a lot of use and they can be done well and they are very effective when they are done well,” Gardetto says. “However, they are not for every single ecosystem throughout the West.”


Even with changes in global temperatures, Gardetto says that prescribed burns are still one of the best ways of preventing larger wildfires. The same factors like temperature, precipitation and wind patterns are used to help crews determine if a burn is appropriate in an area. 


“Prescribed burns are one of the many tools in our toolbox as far as wildfire management, and they are very ecosystem dependent,” Gardetto explains. “So where a prescribed burn may work in one area, it may not be the right fit for another.”


For other fire management techniques, folks should also make sure there is a vegetation gap around their home. Wildfire most easily catches residences with nearby plants and trees.


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