Telling Fire’s Story through Narrative and Art

TitleTelling Fire’s Story through Narrative and Art
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsBarrett, SW
Series TitleFire Science Digest
Document Number25
Date Published07/2017
InstitutionJoint Fire Science Program
CityBoise, ID
Keywordsjfsp fire science briefs and digests

Modern works by highly skilled narrative authors and artists have become increasingly useful for telling the story of wildland fire in the United States. Using unconventional means—and with partial funding by the Joint Fire Science Program—creative individuals have spawned some colorful and heartfelt messages that convey insightful information about wildland fire, climate, and other elements of nature to an increasingly receptive public. Recent narrative works by well-known authors, such as Stephen J. Pyne, and creative art pieces by well-established and emerging artists have helped depict fire in a new light to audiences that scientists may rarely reach. This issue of Fire Science Digest describes recent books funded by the Joint Fire Science Program and other sources that focus on fire’s ecological role in various regions of the U.S. and on associated fire management issues and events. For instance, Stephen Pyne has not only written an insightful overview of contemporary fire history between 1960 and 2013, but he has also interpreted what that history has meant for the evolution of federal agencies and fire management during that time. In addition, Pyne has produced an anthology of books describing regional fire histories, such as in the Southwest, Northern Rockies, California, Florida, and other regions, that add “local color” to the overall narrative of contemporary fire history. In addition, fire-centric art projects in Alaska, Arizona, and elsewhere have helped tell fire’s story in America. Such efforts often were guided by regional fire scientists and educators to enlighten and promote a more fire-adapted society.

“The simplest way to describe fire worldwide is that there is too much of the wrong kind, too little of the right kind, and too much overall.”

- Historian Stephen J. Pyne