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Giant Wildfires

Huge wildfire and human resources in Colorado. How big a wildfire can we take on?

In this Wednesday June 27,2012 photo released by NASA showing wild fires burning at the south end of the Wyoming Range in southwestern Wyoming taken aboard the International Space Station, 240 miles above earth. These particular fires, of unknown cause, are burning at the south end of the Wyoming Range in southwestern Wyoming, and have affected 17,000 acres. (AP)

In this Wednesday June 27,2012 photo released by NASA showing wild fires burning at the south end of the Wyoming Range in southwestern Wyoming taken aboard the International Space Station, 240 miles above earth. These particular fires, of unknown cause, are burning at the south end of the Wyoming Range in southwestern Wyoming, and have affected 17,000 acres. (AP)

June is early for wildfires in the West.  But it was blazing this year.  Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho – all fighting fires.  In Colorado last week, 30,000-plus evacuated.  350 homes burned in Colorado Springs alone.

Epic images of mountains ablaze and humans in flight.  We don’t stop hurricanes from their destruction.  But we think we can stop wildfires.  Can we still assume that, in an era of Western tinderbox, drought, development and climate change?

This hour, On Point:  What we’re learning from the early, astonishing explosion of wildfires in the West.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Megan Verlee, a reporter for Colorado Public Radio.

Bill Kaage, wildland fire director for the National Park Service and a member of the National Multi-Agency Coordinating group at the National Interagency Fire Center.

Dr. Wally Covington, executive director of the Ecological Restoration Institute.

Map Of Colorado Fires

Check out this Google Crisis map of the fires across the West.

View map in a larger map

From Tom’s Reading List

The Los Angeles Times “The Waldo Canyon wildfire has become a killer, fire officials announced Friday morning, saying that human remains had been found in one burned area. Meanwhile, Colorado Springs was preparing for a presidential visit to what has become the state’s most destructive wildfire.”

DailyClimate.org “As the West has warmed and dried over the past 30 years, headlines describing fire season have grown ever more apocalyptic: “epic” dryness, “monster” fires, new records for damage and devastation.”

Yahoo News “A fierce Colorado wildfire that has forced the evacuation of some 35,000 people while raging for six days at the edge of the state’s second-most populous city has destroyed 346 homes, Mayor Steve Bach said on Thursday, citing preliminary damage reports.”

CBS News “The devastating wildfires in Colorado have provided a showcase for the latest technology in mapping and tracking emergencies. Esri and Google Maps are presenting maps of the fires that the two companies continuously update, demonstrating an increasingly popular method for disseminating emergency information.”

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