Montana Public Radio

Fireline

By just about every measure, wildfires are getting bigger, hotter, and more devastating than we’ve ever seen before. But what all that fire means — and what to do about it — depends on who you ask.

Our view of fire is complicated. There’s fire as catastrophe, as something to be controlled and wiped off the landscape, feared. And there’s fire as something natural and essential, beautiful.

So, how do we reconcile those two views of fire? How did we get ourselves into this mess? And what can we do about it?

Listen now on Fireline, a six part series about what wildfire means for the West, the world and our way of life.

Ways to Connect

Fireline Episode 06 - Part 2: The Fire Triangle

Apr 20, 2021

Tens of millions of people across the West are facing the reality of life in a flammable landscape. When we hear about communities getting wiped out by wildfires, what’s actually going on? Why is it happening? And what can we do about it? Learn more now on the final episode of Fireline.

Fireline Episode 05: Burnout

Apr 6, 2021
Fireline Episode 05: Burnout
Jessy Stevenson

There are more than 30,000 people who fight wildfires in the U.S., and about 400 firefighters have died on the job over the last two decades. As fire seasons get longer and fires become more devastating, the physical and mental toll on firefighters themselves is also growing. Learn more now on Fireline Episode 05: Burnout.

Fireline Episode 04: The Gift Of Fire

Mar 30, 2021
Fireline Episode 04: The Gift Of Fire
Jessy Stevenson

For millennia, wildfire was part of life in North America. Indigenous people used it for tradition and ceremony, to improve the health of ecosystems, and to assist with hunting and gathering. But the arrival of white settlers marked the beginning of an era in which that knowledge about fire and its role on the landscape was suppressed. Now, Indigenous groups across the country are working to revive tribal relationships with fire. Today, hear one story about bringing fire back to the land on the Flathead Reservation in Northwest Montana.

Fireline Episode 03: Ring Of Fire

Mar 23, 2021

The connection between humans and fire goes back millions of years. What started with campfires and cooking grew into a burning addiction that catalyzed the Industrial Revolution and now shapes nearly every aspect of our society. Now, our ongoing reliance on fire in its many forms is changing the climate with explosive consequences for wildfires — and much more.

Fireline Episode 02: The Big Burn

Mar 16, 2021

In 1910, a wildfire the size of Connecticut engulfed parts of Montana, Idaho and Washington. Ed Pulaski and his crew were among the many people trapped by the enormous blaze. The Big Burn, as it came to be known, helped propel a culture of fire suppression that still persists in many forms. What does that massive fire mean for the way our society deals with the wildfires of today?

Fireline Episode 01: Suppressed

Mar 9, 2021

When Lily Clarke arrived at the August Complex Fire, it was a fire of sensational size. The blaze eventually burned more than 1 million acres, becoming the largest recorded wildfire in California history. Across the country in 2020, flames charred an area nearly 5 times the size of Yellowstone National Park — the largest swath of land burned since reliable records began. Wildfires across the country are getting bigger, hotter and more devastating. But what’s all this fire really mean — for the west, for firefighters and for everyday folks? And what’s it really like to fight fire on the ground?

By just about every measure, wildfires are getting bigger, hotter, and more devastating than we’ve ever seen before. But what all that fire means — and what to do about it — depends on who you ask.