Where there's smoke there's fire. Truer words have never been spoken. The amazing thing about the relationship between smoke and fire, though, is that a smallish fire can create a more-than-largish cloud of smoke.
It seems that the western US is currently blanketed by one massive smoke cloud. The smoke comes, not from small fires, but large uncontained fires, primarily in the northwest and California. It makes for spectacular sunsets, but is that the extent of the positives?
I remember being in Yellowstone in 1988, watching massive fires quickly burn forests that I had always considered sacred and untouchable. I was wrong.
Today, the forests in Yellowstone are regenerating. Yes, it's taken a long time by our standards, but by geologic standards, it's merely a blip in time.
Faced with the destruction a fire can bring so quickly and unexpectedly, we have every reason to fear fire. Mother Nature can be cruel on so many fronts. We can't change her ways, but we can live and build smarter. Although I resisted it, I recently cleared away the brush and trees within a 75-foot radius of our mountain getaway. Done at the insurance company's behest, I now recognize it was the right thing to do.
We can't change Mother Nature, but seeing the destruction from this past summer's fires, how can we not change our behavior? Something you cherish may depend on it.
Andrew Barnard, AIA, LEED AP is president of Denver-based architecture and design firm Sink Combs Dethlefs.