ASU professor shares views on the epic story of fire


Sandra Leander

Freelance writer Jennifer Weeks takes a closer look at fire – its history, our relationship with it and our responsibility to manage its effects – in an article for Stanford Alumni Magazine. Weeks interviews Stephen Pyne, a professor with ASU's School of Life Sciences, and asks him about a book he is writing on the history of fire in America since 1960. Pyne feels this period in our history deserves its own book.

Pyne believes Americans have sharply contrasting ideas about whether fire is acceptable in both wild and developed areas. 

"We have two narrative templates for talking about fires: as disaters, or as battlefields – which leads to calls for sending in the troops. But you can't govern the landscape that way. We've created an ecological insurgency, and we can't bomb it out," he says.

Weeks' article is published on the heels of the tragic deaths of 19 firefighters in June. When battling a blaze near Prescott, Ariz., the experienced group was overtaken by the massive fire.