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Fighting fire with fire: Prescribed burns can prevent catastrophic wildfires

Los Angeles reporter Brian Melley accompanied a fire crew on a prescribed burn in the California wilderness, producing an all-formats look at one of the most controversial efforts to head off wildfires. After the devastating California wildfires of the last two years, Melley was assigned to find out how prescribed burns, considered one of the more effective ways to stop or slow fires, were being used to clear brush and other vegetation. New research showed the fires weren’t being employed enough in the West despite the goal of removing accumulated fuel.

Melley eventually joined a burn in King’s Canyon National Park where he shot photos and video to accompany a story that outlined the firefighting technique and the issues around it. His all-formats coverage received wide play in California and the West. The Orange County Register and The (Santa Rosa) Press-Democrat – the hometown paper for the hardest-hit area from the 2017 wine country fires – were among many media outlets to use the package. USA Today ran it with a gallery of 15 of Melley’s photos. And the Gazette-Times in Corvallis, Oregon, cited Melley by name in an editorial calling for more such burns.

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