Forest fires are known to be constructive to the future growth of an ecosystem. Many nature sanctuaries complete controlled burns of wooded areas or grasslands as a way to reset the area and make it ripe for future growth. Nature often has its own burns, but they were uncontrolled and while healthy in the long term that fact provides little comfort to people or animals caught in the path of a rampaging fire. But not all damaging and deadly fires can be blamed on nature.
In early to mid 19th century America a great pine forest stretched across much of the northern United States. Early settlers in Michigan and Wisconsin were stunned to find nothing but thick pine forests stretched for miles. The majestic white pine trees sometimes grew to more than 200 feet tall. Despite the natural beauty of this forest, American pioneers needed land to settle. Chopping down the trees by hand could have taking centuries. So rather than worry about a man made solution the settlers took a queue from nature and started fires.
Fires might have been efficient in clearing a space, but the settlers knew little or did not care to know about fire management. Fires would clear out an intended area and often spread to dozens of unintended acres. The vast frontier could spare a few trees it was thought. After all there was no environmental movement or much thought to conserve natural resources in the mid-1800s. America was still a vast wilderness that man had to conquer.
After settlers established themselves in northern Michigan and Wisconsin a burgeoning lumber industry started and the pine forests that greeted the first settlers to the area began to be devoured by American industry and man made fires. Forest fires were a regular occurrence. The lumber industry of that era did not have established fire management plans. Nor did the industry plan for the long term future. Northern Wisconsin is all but completely devoid of the massive pines that once dominated the horizon. And it is not because of natural forest fires.