It was 20 years ago that firefighters got their first glimpse of what was to come. In 1988, a third of Yellowstone National Park burned. Since then, fires have broken records in nine states. Several mega-fires, like one in Arizona, have burned over half a million acres each.
Why are there more of these fires? Turns out the forest service is partly to blame with a policy it started 100 years ago.
The policy was to put out all fires immediately. "Because we so successfully fought fire and eliminated fire from this ecosystem for a hundred years, because we thought that was the right thing to do, we've allowed a huge buildup of fuel in these woods. So now, when the fires get going, there's a lot more to burn than historically you would've seen in a forest like this," Boatner explains.