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The Los Angeles Times turned to Rick Halsey, the director of the Escondido-based California Chaparral Institute, for some insight about where scientific research will focus post-fire.

The Times says:

Such events are rare enough that firefighters, ecologists and meteorologists don’t really have a name for them, but they have happened before, and no one is entirely sure how to predict their behavior.

“If you’ve been in fire long enough, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up,” said Halsey, founder of the California Chaparral Institute, which promotes understanding of the region’s natural habitat. “You don’t know where it’s going to start. But it’s going to start.”

Scientists will begin flying over the burned areas to check the extent of the fires’ reaches, the Times says. Whether they’ll be able to learn if a larger force is behind the prolific fire event is unknown.

[S]ome wonder whether the weight of circumstance might overwhelm an attempt to study the behavior of regional conflagrations.

“You need to have ignitions in the right place at the right time with the fuel in the right conditions. But it’s a roulette wheel,” said UC Riverside geology professor Peter Sadler. “I’m not sure we know enough to be able to say that there’s something else going on other than a run of bad luck.”

ROB DAVIS

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