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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science > Fire Wars (Nova)

Nova Fire Wars


Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C Main Program: B-



It is one thing that firefighters since the 1980s have had to face budget cuts, closed firehouses, then see many paying jobs replaced by volunteer fire departments. If that was not enough, it turns out that wildfires are still an even worse problem and The United States is seeing it as a mounting problem in Fire Wars, a blunt, disturbing installment of the ever-great Nova series on PBS as produced by WGBH in Boston.


This is a billion-dollar-a-year crisis and even with the latest technologies, the size and length of burning-up of priceless forests and lands gets worse and worse. There are those who are setting fires for religious reasons, those whose simple carelessness sets off catastrophes, and strategies that include setting other fires to stop the spreading. In the two hours the program runs, the news reports that show these fires all the time seem timid and more distant. The impressive thing about this program is that it is willing to get its hands dirty and show how bad this really gets. When you see local fires, a few houses and even a city block is bad enough, but we are talking millions of square acres and the loss of who knows what species and their habitats. The show spells out that it is a situation that needs a solution quickly and offers some possibilities. As for the idea of declaring war on fire that seems like a doomed prospect that will do more harm than good eventually becoming some bureaucratic money machine/misery spreader. Hopefully, science and the right people will pull through.


The letterboxed 1.78 X 1/16 X 9 image is not anamorphically enhanced, but looks good despite detail limits, likely originating in digital High Definition. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is clean enough, but surprisingly has no Pro Logic surrounds. Extras are few, but include PBS link, PDF-formatted teaching materials, video descriptive services, and a text page on five other series installments.



- Nicholas Sheffo


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