Americans across the country are praying this week for those injured and left homeless by massive wildfires burning homes in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Even worse, four are already dead.
Investigators suspect the fires were set by humans, but did environmentalist policies turn what would have been two small blazes into one colossal, deadly disaster?
The fires are centered in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, where they have consumed over 500 acres of land and trees.
Timber and land policies in national parks are set by the federal government, which manages the land and controls the number of trees, living and dead, in the forests.
Wildfires used to be controlled through a program of “timber thinning,” where dead trees were removed and living trees scientifically harvested.
As a result, wildfires were kept in check because there was no dead wood to fuel them, and the managed growth of the forest kept the remaining trees healthy.
People felt safe living near national forests.
But those timber thinning policies have been shut down in recent decades by lawsuits from environmentalist groups, and political activists working in the federal government.
With timber thinning shut down, national forests have become literal tinderboxes — with millions of acres of dead, dry wood covering forest floors.
It has also led to an explosion in pine bark beetle infestation, which has killed millions of additional trees, adding even more literal fuel to all-but-certain fires.
The end of timber thinning has been followed by a never-ending string of horrific wildfires across the country, fueled by environmentalist policies and leading to thousands of lost homes and dozens of innocent dead.
The only question now is, what role, if any, did these environmentalist policies play in making the Tennessee wildfires so destructively massive?