Pringle begins with a hyped-up, melodramatic description of a destructive raging fire--but, being Pringle, he then reveals that such scenes exist only in people's minds. Not all forest fires are ""bad,"" he explains; they have been a natural force in the environment for many thousands of years, and many trees and plants--and some animals who live off them--are ""fire species,"" better off when natural blazes are allowed. Fire is ""like decay speeded up,"" says Pringle, in that plants that grow after fires are richer in nutrients. Successful fire control has, ironically, created conditions that favor runaway fires when they do occur; the people who manage land are now learning to allow ""controlled burn"" which better serves the forest. So goes the latest word in fire ecology, handed down with Pringle's usual concision, clarity, and good sense.