Nebraska lawmakers rethinking state's approach to wildfires

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In the wake of massive summer blazes that threatened property, strained local budgets and disrupted businesses that rely on tourism, Nebraska lawmakers are preparing for 'new normal' of mega-fires.

Nebraska will likely see larger and more intense "mega-fires" in coming years for a variety of reasons, said State Forester Scott Josiah. Heat, drought and climate change play a role, but so does the spread of eastern red cedar trees -- a pine with needles and resin that both are highly flammable.

"These fires are just so much bigger than what we've faced before," Josiah said. "We're in a new normal, and fire departments will need more equipment and resources."