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B. Why are there Regional Differences in U.S Wildfires?

Narrator:This is Science Today. So far, this year alone wildfires have burned almost two million acres. That's twice the ten-year average for this point in the year. Major fires have struck all parts of the country, from New Jersey and Florida to Colorado and California. But all regions are not equal when it comes to fire danger. Fire Scientist Scott Stephens of the University of California, Berkeley, says the severity of wildfires in different parts of the United States has changed in recent decades.

Stephens: Most of the West increased in the amount of acres that've burned in the last 60 years. Some places actually in the Northeast and the Eastern U.S., and also the Southeast, have actually seen decreases.

Narrator: Stephens says natural causes, like lightning, account for some of these differences. But there are also other reasons.

Stephens: You know I think one of the real changes is really the cultures of the people. The Southeast United States has really come up with a culture of fire and people together. A lot of people use fire down there culturally for their practices and their management.

Narrator: Whereas in the West, there's less use of fire as a preventive tool. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.