It has been recently reported that:

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday (July 31) called in the military to fight forest fires that have been raging across vast expanses of Siberia for days, enveloping entire cities in black smoke.

Similar efforts have been undertaken in British Columbia last year and many other regions around the world. However most of the time the efforts are pretty much futile, as for example Vancouver was covered in smog for several weeks despite all the efforts and only the start of the rainy season finally put the fires to an end.

The article goes on to mention that:

Environmentalists have warned that the scale of the blazes could accelerate global warming, aside from any immediate effects on the health of inhabitants.

However I'm not sure how this could be related to global warming, given that forest fires raged this planet for tens of millions of years and are thus a perfectly natural occurrence.

Therefore given that putting out forest fires is extremely inefficient and that forest fires are natural, why are governments spending so much efforts in trying to combat them?

closed as off-topic by Denis de Bernardy, divibisan, Stormblessed, Philipp Jul 31 at 22:19

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  • 1
    Wildfire is not happening only in the uninhabited areas and it can actually kill us (e.g. US statistics). Also, burning (a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere) one of the main O2 source intuitively is not a good thing. – Alexei Jul 31 at 17:16
  • 1
    @Alexei firefighters are not merely focused on saving human lives, they're also pouring millions of gallons of water over fires that are of no threat to humans – JonathanReez Jul 31 at 17:24
  • 5
    Fire spreads. If you contain the fire far away from people, it prevents it from spreading to places where people are – divibisan Jul 31 at 17:31
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    Trees have fallen down for millions of years, but that doesn't imply that some don't fall because a human chopped at them with an ax. People have died from eating poisonous plants for thousands of years, but that doesn't mean none die because someone fed them that poisonous plant. Fires have happened for millions of years, but that doesn't mean that some aren't caused by arson, human negligence, or higher temperatures due to fossil fuel emissions. – Obie 2.0 Jul 31 at 21:29

Err... Because the people living in those cities (and the surrounding area) probably don't like being enveloped in black smoke? (Though hereabouts it tends to be more of a gray or brownish.)

People do tend to live in close proximity to places where wildfires happen, so the fire can easily spread from forest to areas with inhabited structures, causing much property damage and possible deaths, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_Fire_(2018) Moreover, the forests (and grasslands) are themselves valuable resources.

While fires are, as you say, a perfectly natural occurance, their scale has (in many places) been greatly increased by a century or so of forest mismanagement, allowing fuel loads to increase. That's why some forest management agencies now use a policy of controlled burns: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/dbnf/home/?cid=stelprdb5281464

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