At ground zero of the Biscuit Fire

Larry Caldwell larryc at
Mon Dec 9 19:36:43 EST 2002

In article <b9eb3efe.0212090644.368290e0 at>, 
wolfbat359 at writes: 
> I climbed to a bluff high above the lake for a wider view. Yes, the
> lakeshore was a circle of green in a small black spot, but beyond
> stretched 40 miles of wilderness where virtually all of the old-growth
> trees had survived. In this larger picture, the forest had been
> rejuvenated, not devastated.

The beneficial effect of fire has been well known for centuries.  The 
famous Great Fire of London in 1666 allowed architect Christopher Wren to 
rebuild a model city.  It is often rumored that the emperor Nero burned 
Rome as a means of slum clearance.  The Great Fire of Chicago in 1871 
burned about the same percentage of the city as the Biscuit fire, and led 
to a great economic boom as the city was rebuilt.  

Unfortunately, our cities are suffering from a century of ill conceived 
fire suppression, leaving massive unhealthy areas of decaying buildings.  
We need to return to a policy of encouraging regular burns in our cities 
to clear the ground for new development.  The old buildings that are well 
built will once again be exposed to sunlight as rapidly built but less 
durable buildings are consumed.


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