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Good Reads: From revamping fire policy, to gangs on Facebook, to middle-class causes

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Max Whittaker/Reuters

(Read caption) A firefighter tends to an area affected by a wildfire in Happy Valley, Calif.

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There is one thing that wildfire experts know for certain: Wildfires are unpredictable.

Fires have grown larger and more intense in the past 10 years, a result of a decades-long fire policy focused on extinguishing every forest fire as quickly as possible. This practice has created an overabundance of deadwood, turning “much of the American West into a tinderbox,” Paul Tullis writes in The New York Times Magazine.

Mr. Tullis gathered the latest research and methods fire experts have explored to solve the fire predictability conundrum. Researchers want to improve firefighters’ abilities to make better predictions in the field, especially when massive fires threaten lives and property. But even improved prediction models won’t prevent fires, he writes, arguing for a new fire policy that encourages managed burns in high-risk areas. “The way to make wildfires, and the people living near them, safer is by making peace with the idea that we need to let more of them burn longer,” he writes.

 
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