SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. -- A raging wildfire that could become the largest in Arizona history is rekindling the blame game surrounding ponderosa pine forests that have become dangerously overgrown after a century of fire suppression.
Some critics put the responsibility on environmentalists for lawsuits that have cut back on logging. Others blame overzealous firefighters for altering the natural cycle of lightning-sparked fires that once cleared the forest floor.
Either way, forests across the West that once had 50 trees per acre now have thousands, and much of the landscape is choked with tinder-dry brush. The dense growth has fueled immense conflagrations. The blaze in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has grown to 525 acres. In the past, a 30-square-mile fire was considered huge. -- AP