Last fall, we opened a brand-new exhibit called Fire! Science & Safety, which invites our guests to explore Casa Del Fuego, Apartment 911 as a fire danger detective, seeking out fire and burn hazards to make their families, pets, and homes safer—both inside the home, as well as outside threats like wildfires.
It’s been pretty rainy in California lately, so wildfires have largely faded from the headlines. But throughout 2020 and 2021, we heard about one giant catastrophic megafire after another. It seemed like our state was always burning.
Ever wonder why California has so many wildfires?
There are many factors at play here—climate change, drought, dead trees, longer fire seasons—but we can also learn a lot about what’s happening today by looking at our past. We talked to Dr. Jared Dahl Aldern (@JaredDahlAldern), an environmental historian and a fire practitioner, who has a wealth of experience researching the history of fire in California, as well as learning from and working with Indigenous people who use fire to take care of the land. He walked us through some important events in our state’s history—from the Gold Rush to the formation of the National Forest Service—that help explain why there’s so much fire today.
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