And what about those fuels mitigation efforts? How long do they actually reduce the fire risk? “People tend to forget that fuels re-grow, so it’s not a matter of a single-year fix,” Veblen says.

Stories like these are ripe for investigation, especially once the fires die down and reporters have time to catch their breath.

As for how to handle the climatic context, Veblen offers this advice:

“There needs to be an equal balance between the land-use problem — that is very, very clear — and the human-induced warming problem. They go hand in hand. We can’t ignore either one.”

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Tom Yulsman is a science and environmental journalist, and co-director of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder.