Chico Creek Nature Center hosts presentation on the science of wildfires

Chico locals gather inside the Chico Nature Center on Thursday night for a presentation on the science behind wildfires.

The Chico Creek Nature Center hosted a presentation on the science behind wildfires, Thursday night in the aftermath of the Camp Fire.

Dozens of Chico locals came to learn about the causes of wildfire, how it spreads, and how the environment plays a role.

Professor Don Hankins has worked at Chico State since 2005, and he's an authority on the ecology of wildfire. That is, how it interacts with the environments that surround it. One example he gave was of dry brush, which, when left to accumulate, creates a massive fire hazard.

Hankins offered a bit of advice on one of the more long-term methods of fighting wildfire.

"We can't rule fire out of the landscape. It's gotta be part of the landscape, that's the ecology of the land that we live in. And so at some point, fire's gonna be there, why not shift it to our own terms?" Hankins said.

In other words, instead of trying to rid fire from the environment completely, he believes people must learn how to control it, and use it as a tool to stop the spread of wildfires. One such strategy used by firefighters is back burning, where fire crews will set fires from containment lines and guide its direction with a bulldozer or by hand.

However, fire crews typically only back burn as a last resort.

The presentation was originally scheduled for November 8th, the day the Camp Fire started. Even after the fire broke out, it wasn't until the afternoon that the presentation was rescheduled because of the flames approaching Chico.

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