"The number of catastrophic wildfires in the U.S. has been steadily rising," reports Scientific American (p.47, August 2007)
Ironically, this increase in catastrophic fires is based on suppression of smaller, natural wildfires. These smaller fires clear the forests of excess brush and debris that build up over time. When such fires are suppressed, the excess brush and debris make fodder for intense fires that are virtually impossible to fight.
Proposed three-fold solution? Let certain natural fires simply burn. Set other areas on fire, purposely. And thin out low-hanging tree limbs, brush, and debris.
When such a policy is pursued, forests are actually strengthened. Also, it's interesting to consider that certain pine cones, like the Redwood cone, must be burned to release their seeds into an environment that ends up conducive to germinating.
This is all highly fascinating to me. On the one hand, it makes me cautious about simple environmental solutions like suppression, that seem wise but ultimately are not. We really do need to take our cue from Creation and see how it preserves and propagates itself. On the other hand, it kindles my thoughts about spiritual growth. Should I be suppressing certain fires that arise in my life? Should I fight the fires of God? Maybe I should let the smaller burnings speak to me... even offer up my soul for kindling now and again.