Can California learn from Finland on fires?

Margot Edinger, Reporter

In lieu of the wildfires burning in California, leaving up to 70 people dead and thousands of homes destroyed, President Donald Trump has been quick to point fingers, blaming California’s forest management for the devastation caused by the blaze.

On November 11, Trump and President Niinisto of Finland had a brief conversation in Paris, leading to Trump’s statements about Finland’s fire management. While touring the affected areas of California, Trump said that the Finnish government spends “a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem.” Niinisto maintains that while the subject of wildfire prevention was discussed, raking never came up.

The forest service of Finland is successful in controlling most fires by clearing away underbrush, encouraging the growth of new saplings, and abiding by an early warning system consisting of aerial surveillance and a network of forest roads.

While Finland has an incredibly effective fire management system, researchers are not sure if the country’s approach can be successfully applied to California. The main factor is climate. Finland is considerably colder than California, with part of the country located in the Arctic circle and summer temperatures in the mid-60s. California, on the other hand, has high temperatures, dry air, and winds. The incendiary risk is much lower in Finland than in California, demonstrating that it is not logical to compare the two fire management systems.