About the Malibu Fires -
Human beings are able to adapt to almost any environment, unfortunately
sometimes we take advantage of our natural surroundings. We find ourselves amidst a
struggle between our lifestyles and nature. Although we affect nature profoundly with
our activities, we in turn are shaped by nature's potent forces. Nature can be brutal to
humans, but we must remember that it merely is following its course. As a result, we
must learn to coexist with it. Fire is a naturally occurring phenomenon which humans
have learned to deal with throughout history. Yet when fire burns uncontrollably, there is
great potential for monumental damage to all surrounding biomass. The Malibu
wildfires are an example of one such instance.
Historically, wildfires had been left to burn uncontrolled for weeks. Fires were
caused by different sources such as lightning or human hunters who wanted to chase
animals out of the woods.
As prolonged as these fires were, they had limited catastrophic
effects on the nomadic humans. This is due to the low population density and the fact
that the fires were not very intense. As people began to change from a hunting-gathering
society to agriculturists, they settled in communities. Homes built among the wild brush
were perfect prey to wildfires. Initially, wildfires were put out immediately and people
were barred from setting fires in open spaces. Due to the policy of fire suppression, only
one percent of all wildfires escaped early control. The land was safe from fires
temporarily, but this set the stage for catastrophe as the brush grew more dense.
There have been more than 20 catastrophic wildfires in Los Angeles County since
the beginning of organized fire protection. The first 'big one' happened in December of
1927. The fire started in the La Crescenta Valley,