Excerpts from the article: A counterpoint to folks who say the dead trees are entirely benign.
Researchers believe that the hundreds of millions of trees killed by bark beetles in the West — an estimated 129 million in California alone — will cause even more severe fires as they collapse. “A giant heap of dead forest is a new reality,” Dr. Finney said.
Another factor under examination is the “spotting” behavior produced by embers. Increasing amounts of deadwood are leading to more spotting — the shower of hot embers that high winds pick up from burning trees and scatter a mile or two in front of the flames. These showers set homes, forests and everything else in their path on fire.