Pyromancy: reading stories in the flames
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Stephen J. Pyne
Publication Year: 2004

Cataloging Information

  • aesthetics
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • fire exclusion
  • fire regimes
  • fire suppression
  • fragmentation
  • fuel accumulation
  • land use
  • landscape ecology
  • national parks
  • private lands
  • public information
  • site treatments
  • Tall Timbers Research Station
  • thinning
  • US Forest Service
  • wilderness fire management
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: October 22, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 42007
Tall Timbers Record Number: 16995
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals-C
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


A consensus history of fire in the United States has emerged over the past decade. It correctly identifies fire suppression's liabilities, while probably over‐enthusing about fire‐science capabilities. What it lacks, however, is a context of the subject's larger, braided narratives. There is, first, the grand story of fire on Earth. Quite apart from active suppression, open fire is disappearing in competition with industrial combustion. Second, there is the peculiar narrative of the public lands, the prime domain for wildland fires. These lands, and the institutions for their management, are rapidly changing. They began as “imperial” institutions, but now are devolving, privatizing, and otherwise decolonizing. Fire will change with those reforms. Third, there is a national narrative, currently obsessed with the collision of the wild and the exurban. This will probably pass within 5–6 years. Finally, there is the evolving narrative of how we imagine fire. We need a truly biological theory of fire, one in which we can flourish as unique fire creatures.

Online Link(s):
Pyne, Stephen J. 2004. Pyromancy: reading stories in the flames. Conservation Biology 18(4):874-877.