The Phantom Menace and the Real Cause: Lessons from Colorado's Hayman Fire 2002
18 Penn St. Envtl. L. Rev. 185 (2009-2010)
28 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2014
Date Written: December 10, 2009
The Hayman fire is a story with many levels. On one level, it is the story of one place and time and one community's response to wildfire. On another level, it is a story about the inadequacy of our legal response to multiple chains of causation in significantly different time scales. Finally, and more significantly, it tells the story of our continued refusal to accept wildfire as part of our world. This article explores some of the different levels of this story and then identifies paths - plausible but not well established - by which we might address some of the imbalance the story illustrates. Fire is one of the consistent forces shaping life on this planet. It is ubiquitous, powerful, frequent, and inevitable. In legal terms, the frequency and ubiquity of fire are foreseeable. At every level, many policy makers still desperately want fire to be unforeseeable. To them, fire is either (1) a rare, unpredictable calamity-unique in its every appearance-unforeseeable OR (2) a curable disease like polio, foreseeable in the past but unforeseeable in the future. Subscribing to fire policy based solely on these visions has had and will continue to have great costs.
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