The following comment was posted in response to Katie Mast's Oct. 28 blog, "New satellite technology to detect wildfires an acre in size," covering advances in remote sensing that could help managers plan and execute firefighting efforts.
This sounds great until you consider that advances in technology have helped create the huge wildfires we're now experiencing. The last 100 years of putting out fires – especially low-intensity fires that are easier to control and historically created natural firebreaks across the landscape – created conditions where there are few safe zones in which fires will lay down and can be fought. If this technology were only used in areas where there might be an immediate risk to people or property, it might help. But that's not going to happen, because there's always the risk that fires in the backcountry will eventually become huge fires threatening homes and people. So we'll get better at putting out small fires that can be quickly contained, and we'll continue to have out-of-control fires that destroy life and property because we continue to increase fuel loads and decrease the natural mosaic of forests.