Standing in the Flames of a Prescribed Burn

To prevent mega-wildfires from spiraling out of control, technicians set landscapes ablaze on purpose.

Wildfires have become increasingly intense and dangerous, burning millions of acres annually and costing billions to control nationwide. Wildfire severity has been on the rise thanks to a decades long policy of fire suppression; essentially putting out any and all natural fires, no exceptions. This stance has resulted in a surprisingly unintended effect.  Landscapes are now choked with trees, grass, and shrubs, essentially fuel for a mega fire.

To address this burning problem, fire managers are starting to embrace controlled burns, or prescribed fires. They are deliberately set fires that do the cleanup job that natural fires once did. A specially trained team will execute a carefully designed and managed controlled burn, working in teams to light the landscape ablaze and maintaining the fire line so nothing gets out of control. So to save forest and prairie ecosystems, you have to let it burn.

Step inside a prescribed burn and see how seasoned technicians harness the power of fire to maintain a prairie ecosystem.