Our warming climate is changing the forests of the American West - making them more susceptible to disease and to fire. Years of fire suppression have also built up forest fuels, causing the fires to be more intense and harder to control.
Add to those conditions an increasingly populated countryside - what's known as the "wildland-urban interface" - and you have the potential for catastrophic fires that are destroying homes by the hundreds, and taking the lives of both residents and firefighters.
As part of our "Climate Week" series, News Director Sally Mauk hosts a panel of longtime fire experts, to discuss our personal responsibility to adapt to this new fire reality.
Sally's guests are: former smokejumper and retired forest service fire behavior specialist Bob Mutch; fire information officer and chairman of Firesafe Montana, Pat McKelvey; retired forest service fire fuels management specialist Sonny Stiger; national fire planner and president of the Flathead Economic Policy Center, Carol Daly, and retired forest service plant and fire ecologist, Dr. Steve Arno.