TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A wildfire expert claims the 19 hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill fire should never have been sent to try to defend Yarnell in the first place. Crystal Kolden is a geography professor at the University of Idaho, and a former U.S. Forest Service firefighter. She says its wildland firefighters' job description that's the problem.
She writes in the Washington Post, "since Yarnell had already been evacuated, these men were lost trying to save not lives but houses. Homeowners who live in wildfire-prone areas shouldn't expect their highly flammable property to be rescued during extreme fires."
Kolden also makes the point that we've seen huge growth in the last 40 years of people living in wildfire-prone areas. And these people don't pay higher insurance, like people who live in flood zones or hurricane-prone areas must do. In addition – people who have homes in wildfire-prone areas are not required by law to use fire-resistant materials in their homes.
Kolden writes, "We need to stop seeing wildfire as an enemy to be exterminated forever and instead accept it as inevitable. We need to recognize that communities built without wildfire-mitigation measures are tinderboxes waiting to burn and stop incentivizing homeowners to rebuild with kindling."
You can read the full article here.