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Economist Hedges Bets on Wildfires in California


IGERT graduate student Joanne Ho from the University of Washington explores economics, physics, and logic in California, where wildfires have destroyed many homes and lives.

Article excerpt:

"For nearly a year, I have been sifting through news headlines such as, ‘Thousands evacuated in Northern California wildfire,’ ‘Erratic winds prompt new evacuations in California,’ ‘New crews called in to fight California wildfire,’ and, ‘Death challenges firefighting strategy.’

Wildfires in California are a threat not only to residents living in the wildland-urban interface, but also to firefighters. Some believe it is not worth the lives of firefighters to save these communities from catastrophic wildfires. In May 2007, ‘USA Today’ quoted Tom Harbour, national director of fire and aviation management for the Forest Service, saying, ‘We are not going to die for property. It’s time for homeowners to take responsibility for the protection of their homes.’ "