The combustion products (smoke) from forest wildfires or prescribed burns are often considered on a par with any other emission that might affect air quality. But enough is known about smoke from woody fuels to indicate that its importance is limited almost entirely to visibility obstruction, an effect that can be minimized by proper timing and preparation for burning. Much of the organic matter in smoke from forest fuels is similar to material normally entering the atmosphere from vegetative life or from the decomposition of vegetative matter. Fire compresses these processes into a shorter time. The environmental effects of prescribed burning are far more than compensated by great reduction in danger of disastrous forest conflagrations.