Dr. Minnich’s ideas have been rejected by both the scientific and firefighting communities for more than a decade now. His comparison between Southern California and Baja is without merit. The two regions are radically different and are not comparable.
Large fires have always been a part of the California landscape. For example, the 1889 Santiago Canyon Fire in Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties burned more than 300,000 acres. This was long before the era of fire suppression.
And Minnich’s frequent criticism of the fire service for fighting fires is disingenuous. While he has the luxury of not being responsible for the loss of life and property that would result from letting wildfires burn as he promotes, firefighters do not. Minnich continually claims fires are all about “overgrown” vegetation, but he conveniently ignores fires, such as the 2013 Silver Fire, where young vegetation fuels huge, destructive wildfires.
The 20,293-acre Silver Fire near Banning burned almost totally within the 2006 Esperanza Fire scar. So these were young, seven-year-old fuels. According to Minnich, this can’t happen. It did. In addition, 26 homes were lost.
More information on the Silver Fire is at californiachaparral.org/wordpress1/2013/08/12/silver-fire-defies-popular-beliefs-about-wildfire/. More on why Minnich’s ideas have been rejected by the scientific community can be found at www.californiachaparral.org/fire/firescience.html.
Richard W. Halsey, Director
The California Chaparral Institute