From the Front Line of the Deadliest Wildfire, NOVA Goes 'Inside the Megafire'

Rick and Christina Gables
Courtesy of WGBH

The California wildfires of 2018 took a worrisome trend to a new extreme, claiming scores of lives and over a million acres.

In  Inside the Mega Fire, premiering Wednesday, May 8 on PBS, scientists investigate how forestry practices, climate change, and the physics of fire itself play a role in the dramatic increase in wildfires in recent decades.

Courtesy of WGBH

Just a few months after California’s devastating Carr Fire, another blaze became the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history. As residents raced to evacuate, the Camp Fire devoured 150,000 acres and claimed 86 lives. But how did it get so big so fast? And why are megafires like these becoming more common?

NOVA goes to the front lines of the deadliest fires of California’s 2018 fire season to hear from the people who had to flee — and the scientists racing to understand what’s behind these record-breaking infernos.

Courtesy of WGBH

Researchers take to the forest, and even a fire lab, to understand the increasing megafire threat. They explore the physics of fire, documenting how firestorms move and travel, and what causes phenomena like fire tornadoes. In the process, they decode the link between climate change, drought, and wildfire. And they show how those environmental factors — combined with a century of fire suppression in the American West and new residential developments in the forest — may have created an unprecedented risk.

NOVA: Inside the Megafire, Premiere, Wednesday, May 8, 9/8c, PBS (Check your local listings)