Some fire ecologists say more and hotter forest fires bolstered by global warming could cause the loss of half the forests in the American West, according to a report on mega-fires that will be broadcast on the CBS television network news show "60 Minutes," at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21.
Some of the footage included in the report was shot by CBS's crew in the Ketchum area during the Castle Rock Fire, which burned some 48,000 acres in August and September.
On the show, "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley interviews Tom Swetnam, a fire ecologist at the University of Arizona.
"As fires continue to burn—these mega-fires continue to burn—we may see, ultimately, maybe more than half the forest land converting to other types of ecosystems," Swetnam says. "(It will happen) within some decades, to a century, as warming continues and we continue to get large-scale fires."
This past fire season was the second worst after last year in recorded history, with 8 million acres burned, CBS reported. Average temperatures were up a degree, causing earlier springs and longer fire seasons and quadruple the number of fires.