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How Florida Firefighters Fight Wildfires with Fire

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Florida’s longleaf pine forests need fire to survive and rejuvenate, but the much-needed wildfire threatens local human populations. To keep these forests alive and away from people, fire management specialists ignite controlled, man-made fires.

TRANSCRIPT

- [Narrator] Florida is the lightning capital of the United States.

Over a million bolts strike each year and just one can ignite the parched landscape.

But this isn't the disaster it looks like.

This forest needs fire to survive.

The trees can take the heat as the flames clear the forest of unwanted scrub.

But a landscape that needs fire creates major conflict in a state with a growing human presence.

Almost 900 people move here every day, adding to a population of 20 million.

To protect homes, lightning-strike fires must be put out immediately.

- We can't have fires just moseying around the landscape.

There is people that would be in harm's way, there are houses and people's livelihoods will be affected.

- [Narrator] To keep long-leaf forests alive, here burns are manmade and carefully managed by organizations like The Nature Conservancy.

- Fire needs to be addressed, really anywhere, through prescribed fire.

We have to manage this fire, we have to keep it safe, however, we do our best to mimic what Mother Nature would have done with naturally-ignited fires.

The idea of fire is an ecological disturbance, but that really puts a negative spin on it.

This chaotic, seemingly destructive force is Mother Nature's great rejuvenator.

- [Narrator] Fire has been a feature of this landscape for millennia and by keeping the natural cycle alive, Floridians are leading the way in controlled fire management across the United States.

They've reduced the risk of wildfires and restored thousands of acres of long-leaf pine.

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